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.
- (transitive, archaic) To stab (someone or something).
- c. 1603–1604 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Othello, the Moore of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene ii], page 6:
- To doe no contriu'd mur[t]her; I lacke iniquity / Sometimes to do me ſeruice: nine or ten times, / I had thought to haue ierk'd him here, / Vnder the ribbes.
- To throw or thrust with a sudden, smart movement; to kick or strike suddenly; to jerk.
- 1599, William Shakespeare, “The Life of Henry the Fift”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene vii]:
- Their wounded steeds […] / Yerk out their armed heels at their dead masters.
- 1627, Michaell Drayton [i.e., Michael Drayton], “The Moone-calfe”, in The Battaile of Agincourt. […], London: […] A[ugustine] M[atthews] for VVilliam Lee, […], published 1631, OCLC 1011821086, page 242:
- Vp on a ſuddaine they together ſtart, / And driue at him as faſt as they could ding, / They flirt, they yerke, they backvvard fluce, and fling / As though the Deuill in their heeles had bin, / That to eſcape the danger he vvas in.
- (obsolete, Scotland) To strike or lash with a whip or stick.
- (obsolete, Scotland) To rouse or excite.
- To bind or tie with a jerk.
yerk (plural yerks)
- (archaic) A sudden or quick thrust or motion; a jerk.