Meaning of “jerk” in the English Dictionary

"jerk" in British English

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jerkverb [ I or T, usually + adv/prep ]

uk /dʒɜːk/ us /dʒɝːk/

to make a short sudden movement, or to cause someone or something to do this:

The car made a strange noise and then jerked to a halt.
"What's wrong?" she asked, jerking her head up.

to (force or cause someone or something to) suddenly behave differently, usually by understanding something or becoming active again:

The shock of losing his job jerked him out of his settled lifestyle.

Phrasal verb(s)


uk /dʒɜːk/ us /dʒɝːk/

jerk noun (PERSON)

[ C ] US also jerk-off slang a stupid person, usually a man:

You stupid jerk! You've just spilled beer all down my new shirt!

jerk noun (FOOD)

[ U ] a style of cooking popular in the Caribbean, in which meat is rubbed or marinated (= left covered) in special spices and then cooked, usually on a wood fire:

Jamaican home cooking includes jerk chicken and goat curry.
When it comes to jerk spices, the key flavours are scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, and thyme.

(Definition of “jerk” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"jerk" in American English

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jerk verb [ always + adv/prep ] (MOVE)

to make a short, sudden movement, or to cause someone or something to move in this way:

[ T ] She jerked the phone out of his hands.
[ I ] The bus jerked to a halt.

Phrasal verb(s)

jerknoun [ C ]

us /dʒɜrk/

jerk noun [ C ] (PERSON)

slang a foolish, annoying person:

What a jerk – he parked in my spot!

(Definition of “jerk” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)