noun, plural yokes for 1, 3–20, yoke for 2.
  1. 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).
  2. a pair of draft animals fastened together by a yoke: five yoke of oxen.
  3. something resembling a yoke or a bow of a yoke in form or use.
  4. a frame fitting the neck and shoulders of a person, for carrying a pair of buckets or the like, one at each end.
  5. an agency of oppression, subjection, servitude, etc.
  6. 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.
  7. something that couples or binds together; a bond or tie.
  8. Machinery. a viselike piece gripping two parts firmly together.
  9. Also called fork. a forklike termination for a rod or shaft, inside which another part is secured.
  10. a fitting for the neck of a draft animal for suspending the tongue of a cart, carriage, etc., from a harness.
  11. a crosshead attached to the upper piston of an opposed-piston engine with rods to transmit power to the crankshaft.
  12. (in an airplane) a double handle, somewhat like a steering wheel in form, by which the elevators are controlled.
  13. 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.
  14. spreader beam.
  15. 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.
  16. a horizontal piece forming the top of a window frame.
  17. a Y-shaped piece connecting branch pipes with a main soil pipe.
  18. 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.
  19. British Dialect. (especially in Kent)
    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.
  20. a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter Y.
verb (used with object), yoked, yok·ing.
  1. to put a yoke on; join or couple by means of a yoke.
  2. to attach (a draft animal) to a plow or vehicle: to yoke oxen.
  3. to harness a draft animal to (a plow or vehicle): to yoke a wagon.
  4. to join, couple, link, or unite.
  5. Obsolete. to bring into subjection or servitude.
verb (used without object), yoked, yok·ing.
  1. 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. 2018

Examples from the Web for yoking

Contemporary Examples of yoking

Historical Examples of yoking

  • The yoking of oxen is decidedly not matter for a flying smile to a boy.

  • Then the inspanning, the yoking up of the oxen again, and the start once more.

    Diamond Dyke

    George Manville Fenn

  • During this conversation, Beechnut had been busily employed in yoking up the oxen.


    Jacob Abbott

  • The mode of yoking the animals is as simple as can well be conceived.

    Bible Animals;

    J. G. Wood

  • I watch this process of yoking the bullocks with much curiosity.

    Romantic Spain

    John Augustus O'Shea

British Dictionary definitions for yoking


noun plural yokes or yoke
  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. an immense oppressive force or burdenunder the yoke of a tyrant
  5. a pair of oxen or other draught animals joined together by a yoke
  6. a part, esp one of relatively thick cross section, that secures two or more components so that they move together
  7. 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
  8. a steel framework around the formwork during the casting of concrete
  9. nautical a crossbar fixed athwartships to the head of a rudderpost in a small boat, to which are attached ropes or cables for steering
  10. a Y-shaped cable, rope, or chain, used for holding, towing, etc
  11. (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
  12. a mark, token, or symbol of slavery, subjection, or suffering
  13. rare a link, tie, or bondthe yoke of love
  14. British dialect a period of steady work, esp the time during which a ploughman and his team work at a stretch
  15. Irish any device, unusual object, or gadgetwhere's the yoke for opening tins?
  1. (tr) to secure or harness (a draught animal) to (a plough, vehicle, etc) by means of a yoke
  2. to join or be joined by means of a yoke; couple, unite, or link
  3. (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 yoking



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



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

yoking in Medicine


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