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[yohk] /yoʊk/
noun, plural yokes for 1, 3–20, yoke for 2.
a device for joining together a pair of draft animals, especially oxen, usually consisting of a crosspiece with two bow-shaped pieces, each enclosing the head of an animal.
Compare harness (def 1).
a pair of draft animals fastened together by a yoke:
five yoke of oxen.
something resembling a yoke or a bow of a yoke in form or use.
a frame fitting the neck and shoulders of a person, for carrying a pair of buckets or the like, one at each end.
an agency of oppression, subjection, servitude, etc.
an emblem or symbol of subjection, servitude, slavery, etc., as an archway under which prisoners of war were compelled to pass by the ancient Romans and others.
something that couples or binds together; a bond or tie.
Machinery. a viselike piece gripping two parts firmly together.
Also called fork. a forklike termination for a rod or shaft, inside which another part is secured.
a fitting for the neck of a draft animal for suspending the tongue of a cart, carriage, etc., from a harness.
a crosshead attached to the upper piston of an opposed-piston engine with rods to transmit power to the crankshaft.
(in an airplane) a double handle, somewhat like a steering wheel in form, by which the elevators are controlled.
Nautical. a crossbar on the head of the rudder of a small boat, having lines or chains attached to the ends so as to permit the steering of the boat from forward.
a shaped piece in a garment, fitted about or below the neck and shoulders or about the hips, from which the rest of the garment hangs.
a horizontal piece forming the top of a window frame.
a Y -shaped piece connecting branch pipes with a main soil pipe.
Television. an electromagnetic assembly placed around the neck of a cathode-ray tube to produce and control the scanning motion of electron beams inside the tube.
British Dialect.
  1. the time during which a plowman and team work without stopping; a period of plowing.
  2. a measure or area of land equal to over 50 but less than 60 acres.
a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter Y.
verb (used with object), yoked, yoking.
to put a yoke on; join or couple by means of a yoke.
to attach (a draft animal) to a plow or vehicle:
to yoke oxen.
to harness a draft animal to (a plow or vehicle):
to yoke a wagon.
to join, couple, link, or unite.
Obsolete. to bring into subjection or servitude.
verb (used without object), yoked, yoking.
to be or become joined, linked, or united.
Origin of yoke1
before 900; (noun) Middle English yok(e), Old English geoc; cognate with Dutch juk, German Joch, Old Norse ok, Latin jugum, Greek zygón, Hittite yugan, Sanskrit yuga; (v.) Middle English yoken, Old English geocian, derivative of the noun
Related forms
yokeless, adjective
well-yoked, adjective
2. See pair.


[yohk] /yoʊk/
yolk. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for yoke
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He riveted on the gods his enemies the yoke which had been resting on them.

  • They may win, and if they do, it will be our necks that will be put into the yoke--or the halter.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • The yoke of the Genoese continued longest, and was the heaviest.

  • The smoking cattle held their noses low, and swayed beneath the yoke.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • Once it was so huge that three hundred yoke of oxen could hardly move it.

    Welsh Fairy Tales William Elliott Griffis
British Dictionary definitions for yoke


noun (pl) yokes, yoke
a wooden frame, usually consisting of a bar with an oxbow or similar collar-like piece at either end, for attaching to the necks of a pair of draught animals, esp oxen, so that they can be worked as a team
something resembling a yoke in form or function, such as a frame fitting over a person's shoulders for carrying buckets suspended at either end
a fitted part of a garment, esp around the neck, shoulders, and chest or around the hips, to which a gathered, pleated, flared, or unfitted part is attached
an immense oppressive force or burden: under the yoke of a tyrant
a pair of oxen or other draught animals joined together by a yoke
a part, esp one of relatively thick cross section, that secures two or more components so that they move together
a crosshead that transmits the drive of an opposed piston engine from the upper of a pair of linked pistons to the crankshaft through a connecting rod
a steel framework around the formwork during the casting of concrete
(nautical) a crossbar fixed athwartships to the head of a rudderpost in a small boat, to which are attached ropes or cables for steering
a Y-shaped cable, rope, or chain, used for holding, towing, etc
(in the ancient world) a symbolic reconstruction of a yoke, consisting of two upright spears with a third lashed across them, under which conquered enemies were compelled to march, esp in Rome
a mark, token, or symbol of slavery, subjection, or suffering
(rare) a link, tie, or bond: the yoke of love
(Brit, dialect) a period of steady work, esp the time during which a ploughman and his team work at a stretch
(Irish) any device, unusual object, or gadget: where's the yoke for opening tins?
(transitive) to secure or harness (a draught animal) to (a plough, vehicle, etc) by means of a yoke
to join or be joined by means of a yoke; couple, unite, or link
(transitive) (obsolete) to oppress, burden, or enslave
Derived Forms
yokeless, adjective
Word Origin
Old English geoc; related to Old High German ioh, Old Norse ok, Gothic juk, Latin iugum, Sanskrit yugam
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for yoke

Old English geoc "yoke," earlier geoht "pair of draft animals," from Proto-Germanic *yukam (cf. Old Saxon juk, Old Norse ok, Danish aag, Middle Dutch joc, Dutch juk, Old High German joh, German joch, Gothic juk "yoke"), from PIE *jugom "joining" (see jugular). Figurative sense of "heavy burden, oppression, servitude" was in Old English.


Old English geocian, from yoke (n.). Related: Yoked; yoking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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yoke in Medicine

yoke (yōk)
See jugum.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for yoke



To rob with violence; rob and mutilate; mug: They decided to ''yoke'' the old man with the hearing aid

[1900s+; said to be fr the seizing of the yoke of a sailor's collar from behind in order to subdue and rob him]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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