: readily predictable : automatic; also : reacting in a readily predictable way
Did You Know?
Around 1876, the sudden involuntary extension of the leg in response to a light blow just below the knee, which is also known as the "patellar reflex," was given the refreshingly simple designation "knee jerk." In the 1950s, "knee-jerk" became an adjective with a figurative sense that doesn't require any actual twitching. "As a salesman, I'm getting a bit weary of the knee-jerk association of a con artist with my professional calling," a correspondent once wrote to The New York Times Magazine. "Knee-jerk" often has a negative connotation. It usually denotes a too-hasty, impulsive, perhaps even irrational response that is often based on preconceived notions.
After counting the money and realizing that $100 was missing, the manager's knee-jerk response was to fire the clerk.
"Now we know what it takes to get Democrats and Republicans working together - namely, a potential loss of federal dollars and jobs on the home turf. Assuming that this knee-jerk reaction will happen in every state that receives a similar threat, one wonders how a transition from a military-industrial economy to a peacetime economy can ever be realized?" - From a letter to the editor of the Des Moines Register by Rev. Chet Guinn, February 21, 2012
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