\ ˈyōk How to pronounce yoke (audio) \
plural yokes

Definition of yoke

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a wooden bar or frame by which two draft animals (such as oxen) are joined at the heads or necks for working together
b : an arched device formerly laid on the neck of a defeated person
c : a frame fitted to a person's shoulders to carry a load in two equal portions
d : a bar by which the end of the tongue of a wagon or carriage is suspended from the collars of the harness
e(1) : a crosspiece on the head of a boat's rudder
(2) : an airplane control operating the elevators and ailerons
f : a frame from which a bell is hung
g : a clamp or similar piece that embraces two parts to hold or unite them in position
2 plural usually yoke : two animals yoked or worked together
3a(1) : an oppressive agency
b : tie, link especially : marriage
4 : a fitted or shaped piece at the top of a skirt or at the shoulder of various garments


yoked; yoking

Definition of yoke (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a(1) : to put a yoke on
(2) : to join in or with a yoke
b : to attach a draft animal to also : to attach (a draft animal) to something
2 : to join as if by a yoke
3 : to put to work

intransitive verb

: to become joined or linked

Examples of yoke in a Sentence

Noun a people able at last to throw off the yoke and to embrace freedom Verb The two oxen were yoked together. yoked several ideas together to come up with a new theory
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun State media has also been playing on a popular perception in Russia that Ukraine is under the yoke of corrupt and inept leadership. Ann M. Simmons, WSJ, 1 May 2022 Less than a year after shaking off the yoke of dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, a review of the habous system was atop their agenda in 2012. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, 7 Apr. 2022 Its struggle to emerge from the yoke of Soviet aggression during the Cold War became a stirring example of courage in the name of freedom. Washington Post, 28 Mar. 2022 Now, nearly 75 years later and with the surviving monks too old to continue their work, a family of another faith is taking up the brothers’ yoke. Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 Apr. 2022 His shoulders slump, as though bowed by an invisible yoke. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 28 Jan. 2022 At that time, roughly the middle third of the nineteenth century, the historic capitals of both Poland and Ukraine—Warsaw and Kyiv—were under the yoke of the Russian tsars, who kept a close eye on such things. Keith Gessen, The New Yorker, 29 Mar. 2022 When the Soviet military departed Afghanistan in 1989, the countries and populations of Eastern Europe -- then under varying degrees of the Soviet yoke -- took note. Peter Bergen, CNN, 24 Mar. 2022 One of the defining features of people who have lived under the yoke of Soviet communism is their fearlessness. Itxu Díaz, National Review, 12 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Elder also has emerged as the favorite target of Newsom, who has done his best to yoke the conservative to former President Trump, who is widely unpopular in California. Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times, 25 Aug. 2021 Democrats plan to yoke the entire party, especially vulnerable members in tough districts, to Greene in the midterms. Melanie Zanona, CNN, 6 Aug. 2021 Trump, meanwhile, managed to yoke the meeting to his administration’s campaign to buttress Israel on the world stage. Washington Post, 15 Sep. 2020 Progress required that citizens yoke themselves to an immoral economy in ever more complex ways. R.h. Lossin, The New York Review of Books, 4 Sep. 2020 Munch has the daring to yoke this world-menacing science fiction and world-historical politics to peculiarly intimate settings. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 25 June 2020 Yet none of the other technocrats succeeded in heading a second government, as Mr Conte has done since last September, when the M5S switched partners to yoke itself to the centre-left Democratic Party. The Economist, 27 June 2020 Still, these mutually resentful women can’t disengage: their womanhood, and an accompanying unease in the world, keep them yoked together, entangled in talk. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, 20 Apr. 2020 That meant that some better neologisms got no ink that week, because they were yoked to one or two meh or problematic ones. Washington Post, 13 Feb. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'yoke.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of yoke


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for yoke


Middle English yok, from Old English geoc; akin to Old High German joh yoke, Latin jugum, Greek zygon, Sanskrit yuga, Latin jungere to join

Learn More About yoke

Time Traveler for yoke

Time Traveler

The first known use of yoke was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near yoke



yoke bone

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Statistics for yoke

Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Yoke.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yoke. Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for yoke


\ ˈyōk How to pronounce yoke (audio) \

Kids Definition of yoke

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a wooden bar or frame by which two work animals (as oxen) are harnessed at the heads or necks for drawing a plow or load
2 : a frame fitted to a person's shoulders to carry a load in two equal parts
3 : a clamp that holds or connects two parts
4 plural usually yoke : two animals yoked together
5 : something that brings about pain, suffering, or a loss of freedom the yoke of tyranny
7 : a fitted or shaped piece at the shoulder of a garment or at the top of a skirt


yoked; yoking

Kids Definition of yoke (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to put a yoke on The oxen were yoked together.
2 : to attach a work animal to Yoke the horse to the wagon.

More from Merriam-Webster on yoke

Nglish: Translation of yoke for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of yoke for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about yoke


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