[jurk-waw-ter, -wot-er]


Informal. insignificant and out-of-the-way: a jerkwater town.
(formerly) off the main line: a jerkwater train.


(formerly) a train not running on the main line.

Origin of jerkwater

1875–80, Americanism; jerk1 + water; so called from the jerking (i.e., drawing) of water to fill buckets for supplying a steam locomotive Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for jerkwater

Historical Examples of jerkwater

  • He's never been out of a jerkwater burg in his life, hardly.

    Free Air

    Sinclair Lewis

  • They came from Chicago and jerkwater towns in Nebraska, from farms and steel mills, from the stage and the pulpit.

    Land of the Burnt Thigh

    Edith Eudora Kohl

  • He'd make more dough if he owned the local garage and dealer franchise for one of the automobile companies in some jerkwater town.

    The Common Man

    Guy McCord (AKA Dallas McCord Reynolds)

British Dictionary definitions for jerkwater



US and Canadian slang inferior and insignificanta jerkwater town

Word Origin for jerkwater

C19: originally referring to railway locomotives for which water was taken on in buckets from streams along the route
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