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

  1. Informal. insignificant and out-of-the-way: a jerkwater town.

  2. (formerly) off the main line: a jerkwater train.

  1. (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

Words Nearby jerkwater Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use jerkwater in a sentence

  • And we can empty that pocket just as well with a little jerkwater outfit like this as we could with a big crew and a real mill.

    The Killer | Stewart Edward White
  • 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)
  • 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's never been out of a jerkwater burg in his life, hardly.

    Free Air | Sinclair Lewis

British Dictionary definitions for jerkwater


/ (ˈdʒɜːkˌwɔːtə) /

  1. US and Canadian slang inferior and insignificant: a jerkwater town

Origin of 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