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From Middle English ȝerken (to move suddenly, excite, bind tightly, attack), from Old English ġearcian (to prepare, make ready), compare ġearc (active, quick), from Proto-Germanic *garwakōną (to prepare), from Proto-Indo-European *gʰrebʰ- (to grab, take). Cognate with jerk; see yare for more cognates.


yerk (third-person singular simple present yerks, present participle yerking, simple past and past participle yerked)

  1. (archaic) to stab.
  2. To throw or thrust with a sudden, smart movement; to kick or strike suddenly; to jerk.
    • Drayton
      They flirt, they yerk, they backward [] fling.
    • Shakespeare
      Their wounded steeds [] / Yerk out their armed heels at their dead masters.
  3. (obsolete, Scotland) To strike or lash with a whip or stick.
  4. (obsolete, Scotland) To rouse or excite.
  5. To bind or tie with a jerk.


yerk (plural yerks)

  1. (archaic) A sudden or quick thrust or motion; a jerk.