noun, plural yokes for 1, 3–20, yoke for 2.

verb (used with object), yoked, yok·ing.

verb (used without object), yoked, yok·ing.

to be or become joined, linked, or united.

Origin of yoke

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 formsyoke·less, adjectivewell-yoked, adjective

Synonyms for yoke

2. See pair.




Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for yoke

Contemporary Examples of yoke

Historical Examples of yoke

  • 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 plural yokes or 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 burdenunder 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 bondthe yoke of love
British 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 gadgetwhere's the yoke for opening tins?


(tr) 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
(tr) obsolete to oppress, burden, or enslave
Derived Formsyokeless, adjective

Word Origin for yoke

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

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

Medicine definitions for yoke




The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.