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Etymology 1[edit]

Blend of twerp +‎ jerk.


twerk (plural twerks)

  1. (slang, dated, US) A puny or insignificant person, generally male; a twerp.
    • 1930, Walter Dumaux Edmonds, The Big Barn, page 207:
      "'...but when they load a pack onto you, what'll you do? A little twerk like you?'"
    • 1932, Forum and Century vol. 87 [1]:
      "But even then the poor twerk's whiskers and little eyes looked kind of wistful as if the clothes had got him and was taking him somewhere..."
    • 2003, Bernard Kamoroff, Small Time Operator [2], →ISBN, page 19,
      You don't need those twerks who walk in off the street.
Usage notes[edit]

Found primarily in the 1930s-era works of Walter Dumaux Edmonds.

Etymology 2[edit]

English Wikipedia has an article on:

Blend of twitch +‎ jerk.


twerk (plural twerks)

  1. A fitful movement similar to a twitch or jerk.
    • 1898, William Brigham, "Director's Report" in Occasional Papers of the Bernice Pauahi Museum vol. 1 no. 1, page 42:
      "Not so the Freycineti, who looked me over critically, elevated his head crest, and giving his tail an odd little twerk, proceeded to hop deliberately up the limb like a sap-sucker..."
    • 1920, Lilian C. McNamara Garis, The Girl Scouts at Sea Crest: Or, The Wig Wag Rescue[3],], page 86:
      "I hardly realize it yet that you are my really truly coz," and she gave the girl's long, brown braids a familiar twerk.
    • 1950, Robert S. Close, Love Me Sailor[4],], page 86:
      With a quick twerk at her shift, the girl lifted it to her rounded belly, and squatted nakedly on his lap.
  2. A dance involving sexual movements of the hips and buttocks


twerk (third-person singular simple present twerks, present participle twerking, simple past and past participle twerked)

  1. To twitch or jerk.
    • 1985, Criena Rohan, Down by the Docks, page 151
      [] in the language of the unsophisticated Port Melbourne suburbanite a bed was still something primarily intended for love-making – all the eyebrow-raising and moustache-twerking in Jo'burg couldn't alter that.
    • 2005, Florence Hall Abssi, The Call, page 613
      "He twerked an eyebrow at his wife."
  2. To move the body in a sexually suggestive twisting or gyrating fashion.
  3. To dance in a sexually suggestive manner, often involving rapid movement.
    • 2013, Nichole Smith, ABC News, High School Students Suspended for Twerking
      Twerking, as it is known in the hip-hop community, is a hard-hitting, rump-shaking dance move that celebrities including Beyonce and Miley Cyrus have been known to bust out, but it has also gotten a group of San Diego high school students suspended.


Usage notes[edit]

In “sexually suggestive movements, especially dance”, particularly popularized since c. 2000 by US hip-hop.

Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

Onomatopoeia, possibly coined by Roger Tory Peterson.


twerk (plural twerks)

  1. An abrupt call, such as that made by the California quail.
    • 1961, Roger Tory Peterson, A Field Guide to Western Birds[5], page 67:
      Note of male on territory, a loud kurr or twerk.