jerkwater

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See also: jerk-water and jerk water

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

US mid-19th century. From jerk (to move with a sudden movement) +‎ water. Refers to the need to supply the boilers of steam trains with water. In rural areas, and small towns with no water tower, this was done with buckets from local sources such as streams.

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Noun[edit]

jerkwater (plural jerkwaters)

  1. (US, historical) A train on a branch line.
    • 1975, Indiana Historical Society, Indiana Magazine of History, Vol. 71, no. 1 (Mar. 1975), page 355
      […] by bailing from near streams with buckets, (the brake-man called this operation jerking water) and from this the road gets its name of jerkwater road.

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Adjective[edit]

jerkwater (comparative more jerkwater, superlative most jerkwater)

  1. (US, colloquial, pejorative) Of an inhabited place, small, insignificant, and backward.

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