\ 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


a people able at last to throw off the yoke and to embrace freedom


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

Student loan debt exceeds a trillion dollars, and is a yoke around our economy for all those who can’t afford to buy homes, start a family, or take the risk of being an entrepreneur. Letter Writers, Twin Cities, "Letters: Student loan forgiveness isn’t some wild-eyed hippie ideal," 18 July 2019 Animosities among Sumerian city-states may have hampered Lugalzagesi in his fight against Sargon, who captured him and placed a yoke around his neck. Kristin Baird Rattini, National Geographic, "Meet the world’s first emperor," 18 June 2019 Recorded music has always existed under the yoke of capitalism, and good listeners have always found ways to elevate their listening above the noise of the sales floor. Chris Richards, Washington Post, "How did YouTube become the most popular music streaming site? By sounding like the world itself.," 31 July 2019 Capping out-of-pocket insulin payments at $100 per month will be a lifeline to so many families who are suffering under the yoke of high drug costs. Ian Fleming, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Colorado’s insulin price caps will save lives," 9 July 2019 In particular, people familiar with the matter said, the software issue relates to how quickly pilots can use electric switches on the control column, or yoke, to get the aircraft into more level flight. Andy Pasztor, WSJ, "FAA Finds New Software Problem in Boeing’s 737 MAX," 26 June 2019 Not pulling back on the yoke to try to get the nose up. Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY, "Boeing 737 Max crash: Did pilots have enough flight training to fly commercial jets?," 6 July 2019 The trio feared arrest and potential execution less than living under the yoke of a totalitarian regime. Martin Kuz, The Christian Science Monitor, "In N. Korea nuclear talks, what about human rights?," 20 June 2019 The yoke of draft-pick compensation was one of several factors that slowed Kimbrel’s market over the winter. Andy Mccullough, latimes.com, "Cubs add closer Craig Kimbrel and Dodgers get company in N.L. pennant race," 5 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This is the usual hysteria yoked to the usual foggy thinking. Rich Lowry, National Review, "The New York Times Should Stop Whining," 27 Aug. 2019 And when the number of people who can theoretically collaborate on a project scales up into the billions, your chance of yoking together a critical mass of volunteers goes up exponentially. Zeynep Tufekci, WIRED, "Altruism Still Fuels the Web. Businesses Love to Exploit It," 20 Aug. 2019 Lunt says future systems that yoke UV-capturing perovskites to infrared-capturing organics could reach efficiencies of 20%, while still being nearly entirely transparent. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "Skyscrapers could soon generate their own power, thanks to see-through solar cells," 28 June 2018 The funky new Tourists is the ideal place to stay, a 46-room complex that yokes together an old motel, mill, and 19th-century farmhouse and features onsite trails and river fishing. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Places to Visit in July," 15 June 2018 The threat of plastic waste to marine wildlife is well known; the most ubiquitous image of its impact is that of seafaring turtles and gulls ensnared in the net-like rings that yoke six-packs of canned beverages together. Thomas Leavy, CBS News, "Florida brewery unveils six-pack rings that spare sea turtles, not snare them," 24 May 2018 This is not a case of mistaken identity, of two Jordan Petersons yoked to the same name. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "Jordan Peterson, the obscure Canadian psychologist turned right-wing celebrity, explained," 21 May 2018 Many poems simply yoke together disparate elements, and some have no relation to collage at all (despite Polizzotti’s fanciful suggestion that a sestina’s repetitive pattern of line endings sort of counts). Michael Robbins, chicagotribune.com, "'John Ashbery: They Knew What They Wanted' celebrates a poet and collagist who understood the value of fun," 9 May 2018 Not since Matt Barkley – who, like Daniels, hailed from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif. – has a USC true freshman quarterback been yoked with these sorts of expectations. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "The talk of USC's spring practice is the quarterback who is still in high school," 11 Apr. 2018

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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Learn More about yoke

Dictionary Entries near yoke





yoke bone

yoke elm


Statistics for yoke

Last Updated

6 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for yoke

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

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More Definitions for yoke



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with yoke

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

Comments on yoke

What made you want to look up yoke? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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