\ 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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Poonachi’s attraction to another kid and her hatred of the yoke are translated into human language only lightly covered in goatish fur. Ron Charles, Washington Post, "Perumal Murugan said his career as a novelist was dead. Lucky for us, he was wrong.," 26 Nov. 2019 That of the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War, that of the odyssey of Spanish Republicans engaged in the fight to suppress the Nazi yoke. Raphael Minder, BostonGlobe.com, "Rafael Gómez Nieto, at 99, a liberator of Paris awarded the Legion of Honor," 12 Apr. 2020 The name refers to the long, ropelike rings once used to tether horses and yoke oxen back from the fields. Stacy Adimando, Saveur, "5 Unsung Pasta Classics Every Carb Lover Should Try," 9 Oct. 2017 Led by prime minister Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe was one of the last African countries to shake off the yoke of colonialism and gain independence. Olu Alake, Quartz Africa, "Forty years ago, Bob Marley paid his own way to play Zimbabwe’s iconic independence concert," 18 Apr. 2020 Getting rid of these tariffs will remove a painful yoke that had depressed American manufacturing and farming long before the coronavirus hit our shores. Mary E. Lovely For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "What Trump can do now to rescue America's factories and farms," 1 Apr. 2020 Even Blake Horstmann, the villain of 2019’s Bachelor in Paradise season, managed to wriggle out of his yoke. Kelsea Stahler, refinery29.com, "The Sun Has Set On Bachelor Villains & Brutal Producer Edits — Peter’s Season Is Proof," 12 Mar. 2020 In other words, without secrets life is burden-work and business, furrow, yoke, plow—sterile and fruitless. Talia Lavin, The New Republic, "To Dream of a Jewish President," 13 Feb. 2020 The Japanese promoted Asian chauvinism, an appeal to the people in British, French and Dutch colonies to throw off the yoke of their Western oppressors. Washington Post, "Tolerant Thailand to welcome pope, but martyrs tale haunts," 18 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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, "Kathleen Collins’s Otherworldly Women," 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, "Style Conversational Week 1371: We’re permutation nation," 13 Feb. 2020 Those choices in turn become collars, yoking us to the reality, no matter how gilded, of the daily grind. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "When the Checkpoints Come," 19 Mar. 2020 In close to three years in power, the administration has courted or hosted virtually all the region’s unelected potentates, yoking its anti-Iranian agenda in part to the concerns of a clutch of Arab sheikhs and princes. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "The Trump administration’s obsession with an ancient Persian emperor," 1 Nov. 2019 Beijing retaliated, and soon trade was yoked by billions of dollars in new taxes. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, "The Future of America’s Contest with China," 6 Jan. 2020 Like Jaylon, his parents have yoked their future to faith in God. Sharon Grigsby, Dallas News, "Dallas college student wounded in house attack that killed 1-year-old discusses it for the first time," 31 Jan. 2020 Ofra and Silwad are yoked together by a half-century’s bitter history but kept apart by a skinny road, a small army post and rules barring visits to each other’s neighborhoods. New York Times, "New U.S. Policy, Same Old Bind for Israeli Settlers and Palestinians," 20 Nov. 2019 America is the strange place where Asians are stranded, yoked together by difference. Jiayang Fan, The New Yorker, "Constance Wu’s Hollywood Destiny," 16 Sep. 2019

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for yoke

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for yoke

Last Updated

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Yoke.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yoke. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for yoke


How to pronounce yoke (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of yoke

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a bar or frame that is attached to the heads or necks of two work animals (such as oxen) so that they can pull a plow or heavy load
formal + literary : something that causes people to be treated cruelly and unfairly especially by taking away their freedom



English Language Learners Definition of yoke (Entry 2 of 2)

: to connect (two animals) by a 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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on yoke

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for yoke

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with yoke

Spanish Central: Translation of 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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