\ 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 The Outer Worlds draws its best moments from this contrast, and from the suffering and determination of the people living under the yoke of a really asinine economic system right out of the Gilded Age. Wired, "The Outer Worlds: An Anti-Capitalist Game That's Too Much Work," 6 Nov. 2019 Dominicans are the proud progeny of islanders of differing ancestry who shook off the yoke of Spanish, French, and even U.S. rule to be an independent nation. Krista Kafer, The Denver Post, "Kafer: A lesson on identity politics from the Dominican Republic," 5 Sep. 2019 Another fashion first for fall is the costume sweater; some styles feature yoke designs of velvet, others, jet on wool, some pullovers have companion stripped sleeveless cardigans and others are wool jersey with soutache braid trim. San Diego Union-Tribune, "From the Archives: Back to school fashion in 1950," 27 Aug. 2019 And during acceleration at takeoff, pilots steer left and right with rudder pedals, instead of the obvious control yoke in front of them. Matt Day, The Seattle Times, "‘Video games’? Pilots wonder how plane thief learned to do aerial acrobatics," 13 Aug. 2018 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb His art reflects the limitless versatility of the human voice yoked with technology. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Kanye West Strains His Voice on Jesus Is King," 29 Oct. 2019 Brooks offered reason to believe the two men now understand they are yoked for life. Nancy Kruh, PEOPLE.com, "Reba McEntire, Luke Bryan and More Usher Brooks & Dunn into Country Music Hall of Fame," 21 Oct. 2019 Some critics suspect nefarious motives, such as yoking poor countries to China by giving them unrepayable loans. The Economist, "China’s “maritime road” looks more defensive than imperialist," 28 Sep. 2019 Mr Conte has spent 14 months heading an all-populist government that yoked the Five Stars to the hard-right Northern League. The Economist, "Italy’s Five Star Movement has a deal to form a new government," 29 Aug. 2019 Marx and Engels movingly envisioned a form of class solidarity extending across borders and nationalities, yoking together strangers alienated and exploited by the same economic forces. Astra Taylor, The New Republic, "One for All," 26 Aug. 2019 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

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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Statistics for yoke

Last Updated

15 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for yoke

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

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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

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).


concealed or difficult to comprehend

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