[ jur-kee ]
/ ˈdʒɜr ki /
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See synonyms for: jerky / jerkily on Thesaurus.com

adjective, jerk·i·er, jerk·i·est.
characterized by jerks or sudden starts; spasmodic.
Slang. silly; foolish; stupid; ridiculous.
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Origin of jerky

First recorded in 1855–60; jerk1 + -y1


jerk·i·ly, adverbjerk·i·ness, noun

Other definitions for jerky (2 of 2)

[ jur-kee ]
/ ˈdʒɜr ki /

meat, especially beef, that has been cut in strips and preserved by drying in the sun; jerked meat.
Also jerk.

Origin of jerky

1840–50, Americanism; alteration of charqui
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does jerky mean?

Jerky describes something that involves a lot of jerks, meaning sudden movements.

Jerky also means meat that has been cut into strips and then dried or smoked.

As an adjective, jerky describes something as having irregular, jarring movement, as in It was a long, jerky ride on the carriage thanks to the uncooperative horses.

In this sense, the adverb jerkily means in a jerky movement, as in The wagon bounced jerkily over the rocky path.

The noun form of this sense is jerkiness, as in The jerkiness of the airplane flight quickly made me feel sick.

Jerky is also meat that has been sliced into strips that are then smoked or dried. The term jerked meat is also used to refer to this food. In this sense, jerky is used as both a singular and plural, as in I ate a piece of jerky from the bag of jerky Tom brought on the hike.

Example: The jerky movements of the bull threw the cowboy to the ground.

Where does jerky come from?

The first records of jerky come from around 1670. The adjective comes from the noun jerk, meaning “a sudden movement.” The noun is an Americanism that comes from an alteration of the American-Spanish term charqui, meaning “dried meat.”

In the United States, beef is the most commonly used meat to make jerky, and nearly every grocery store sells bags of beef jerky. However, jerky can be made out of any kind of meat, including alligator, kangaroo, ostrich, and alpaca, which would be considered unusual in the United States.

Jerky can also be used as slang to mean “stupid” or “foolish.” In this sense, jerky is an insult and people described as jerky would not be happy about it.

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What are some other forms related to jerky?

  • jerkily (adverb)
  • jerkiness (noun)

What are some synonyms for jerky?

What are some words that share a root or word element with jerky

What are some words that often get used in discussing jerky?

How is jerky used in real life?

The word jerky more often refers to dried meat.



Try using jerky!

Which of the following words would most likely be used with jerky?

A. fruit
B. drink
C. meat
D. bread

How to use jerky in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for jerky (1 of 2)

/ (ˈdʒɜːkɪ) /

adjective jerkier or jerkiest
characterized by jerks; spasmodic

Derived forms of jerky

jerkily, adverbjerkiness, noun

British Dictionary definitions for jerky (2 of 2)

/ (ˈdʒɜːkɪ) /

another word for jerk 2 (def. 2)
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