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A bow yoke on a bullock team (wooden bar).
A yoke (aviation).


Etymology 1[edit]

From Old English ġeoc, from Proto-Germanic *juką, from Proto-Indo-European *yugóm. Cognate with West Frisian jok, Dutch juk, German Joch, Danish åg, Swedish ok, Gothic 𐌾𐌿𐌺 (juk), Latin iugum (English jugular), Ancient Greek ζυγός (zugós, yoke), Sanskrit युग (yugá, yoke, team), Old Church Slavonic иго (igo) (Russian и́го (ígo)), Persian یوغ (yuğ). Compare yoga.


yoke (plural yokes)

  1. Frame around the neck, and related senses.
    1. A bar or frame of wood by which two oxen or other draught animals are joined at the heads or necks enabling them to pull a plough, cart etc. [from 8th c.]
      • Alexander Pope
        A yearling bullock to thy name shall smoke, / Untamed, unconscious of the galling yoke.
    2. (now US) A frame or convex crosspiece from which a bell is hung. [from 10th c.]
    3. Any of various linking or supporting objects that resemble a yoke; a crosspiece, a curved bar etc. [from 12th c.]
    4. A frame worn on the neck of an animal, such as a cow, pig, or goose, to prevent passage through a fence. [from 16th c.]
    5. A pole carried on the neck and shoulders of a person, used for carrying a pair of buckets, etc., one at each end of the pole. [from 17th c.]
    6. (nautical) A fitting placed across the head of the rudder with a line attached at each end by which a boat may be steered. In modern use it is primarily found in sailing canoes and kayaks. [from 18th c.]
    7. (electronics) The electromagnetic coil that deflects the electron beam in a cathode ray tube. [from 19th c.]
    8. The part of an item of clothing which fits around the shoulders, or the hips, from which the rest of the garment hangs, and which is often distinguished by having a double thickness of material, or decorative flourishes. [from 19th c.]
      • 1913, Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
        [...] this city child was dressed in what was then called the "Kate Greenaway" manner, and her red cashmere frock, gathered full from the yoke, came almost to the floor.
      • 1952, Doris Lessing, Martha Quest, Panther 1974, p. 23:
        The dresses her mother made looked ugly, even obscene, for her breasts were well grown, and the yokes emphasized them, showing flattened bulges under the tight band of material […].
    9. (aviation) Any of various devices with crosspieces used to control an aircraft; now specifically, the control column. [from 20th c.]
    10. (glassblowing) A Y-shaped stand used to support a blowpipe or punty while reheating in the glory hole.
    11. (bodybuilding) Well-developed muscles of the neck and shoulders.
      • 2010, Jim Wendler, "Build an NFL Neck", Men's Fitness (April), page 73.
        Nothing says you're a dedicated lifter and true athlete more than a massive yoke—that is, the muscles of the neck, traps, and rear delts.
  2. Pair of harnessed draught animals, and related senses.
    1. (now chiefly historical) A pair of animals, especially oxen, yoked together to pull something. [from 10th c.]
      • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Luke XIV:
        And another sayd: I have bought fyve yooke of oxen, and I must goo to prove them, I praye the have me excused.
    2. (Scotland, Ireland) A horse and cart, a carriage; now generally, a car or other vehicle. [from 19th c.]
    3. (informal, Ireland) A miscellaneous object; a gadget. [from 20th c.]
    4. (slang, Ireland) Pill of a psychoactive drug.
  3. Extended uses and quantities.
    1. An area of arable land, especially specifically consisting of a quarter of a suling, or around 50-60 acres. [from 9th c.]
      (Can we find and add a quotation of Gardner to this entry?)
    2. (figuratively) A burden; something which oppresses or restrains a person. [from 9th c.]
    3. A bond of love, especially marriage. [from 10th c.]
    4. (chiefly Scotland, English regional) An amount of work done with draught animals, lasting about half a day; a shift of work. [from 18th c.]
      to work two yokes, i.e. to work both morning and afternoon
      (Can we find and add a quotation of Halliwell to this entry?)
Derived terms[edit]


yoke (third-person singular simple present yokes, present participle yoking, simple past and past participle yoked)

  1. To link or to join.
  2. To unite, to connect.
    • Bible, 2 Corinthians vi. 14
      Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers.
  3. To enslave; to bring into bondage; to restrain; to confine.
    • Milton
      Then were they yoked with garrisons.
    • Hudibras
      The words and promises that yoke / The conqueror are quickly broke.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]



  1. Misspelling of yolk.