Last modified on 9 May 2015, at 22:24


From RFCEdit

jerk - sense 2

Is this a specific meaning, or just an example masquerading as a meaning?

--Moglex 20:28, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
I think meanings 1 and 2 are essentially the same. —Stephen 20:34, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
They look different enough to me. The first is an action on another object, the second of the self. Giving something a jerk with the physical body is the first sense, with direction of the mind the second sense. It might be more obvious to you in the verb form, where something would be jerked, versus something jerking. DAVilla 12:36, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
I'd agree that there is a difference, it's the description 'spastic' that seems to be overly restrictive. It implies a specific reason for that type of jerk and thus excludes a start of surprise or those twitches you get occasionally as you fall asleep.

Wiktionary:Requests for verification - keptEdit

Kept. See archived discussion of July 2008. 06:09, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

Soda JerkEdit

Wondering if soda jerk is relate to this? --Salix alba 23:57, 5 October 2008 (UTC)

Without doing any serious research, i picture two-and-a-half perhaps parallel derivations:
  1. The mid-20th-century w:soda fountain (see the accompanying pic) had a toggle spigot, which might be operated with a jerk or two of the toggle, hence soda jerk. (Picture the W:seltzer bottles of the w:Marx Brothers era, with a different style of spigot but the same fluid mechanics.)
  2. The same device figuratively ejaculates when stroked with the hand, so operating the soda fountain parallels male masturbation.
  3. From w:West Side Story's "Gee, Officer Krupke":
Dear kindly social worker,
They say go earn a buck.
Like be a soda jerker,
Which means like be a schumck.[sic]
It's not I'm anti-social,
I'm only anti-work.
Gloryosky! That's why I'm a jerk!
(IIRC, the film's somewhat milder lyrics rhyme "...tell me get a job" with "...I'd be a slob".)
One can be a jerk-off by his finding rudimentary sexual release, by his personal use of time being spent in idleness, or by his job being light work e.g. as a soda jerk providing (nutritionally and intoxicationally) insubstantial, immature leisure-time drinks; all of these are reasons or excuses for someone to be held in contempt as a jerk-off. It's not clear to me that the annoying/unpleasant connotation of "being a jerk" comes from anything more than exaggerating one's distaste for someone seen as inadequate. DARE or less formal slang lexicons might support this network of associations.
--Jerzyt 12:54, 4 February 2012 (UTC)
In fact, i'll take that complex of meanings a stage further: i forgot about w:jerktown (a w:water stop) and jerk water/jerkwater/w:jerkwater town.
--Jerzyt 13:26, 4 February 2012 (UTC)

Request for verificationEdit

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In my opinion, as an Italian speaking, the translatione "idiota" for "jerk" catches only in part the English meaning. "Idiota" is very generic, and not transmitting the sensation of something repelling. Maybe better "stronzo" (literally shit), but even it is not perfect. I don't think there is only a single word, but I am no sure (unsigned message). Mglovesfun (talk) 22:11, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Semper? Anyone else? Mglovesfun (talk) 22:11, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Striking, no action taken. Feel free to tag this for attention by using {{attention|it}} and/or Italian. —RuakhTALK 16:30, 10 December 2009 (UTC)

If I may add, from personal experience after hearing a lot of insults in various traffic jams, stronzo is used in Italy just in the same way as connard is in France, huevón in south America & jerk in the USA. T.y. Arapaima 09:08, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Hello, in frenchEdit

beware, "donner la saccade" (literally "to give a jerk") does not have the anglo-saxon meaning : it means (in Brantôme & Jean de la Fontaine)) "to have a quick coïtus with somebody, while standing against a wall or a tree". Or, ( as in Raymond's Queneau's "Zazie dans le métro" ) "sur les marches du palais" (while standing on the palace stairs). T.y. Arapaima 09:18, 4 January 2011 (UTC)


The term is used as a verb and as a noun in the field of weightlifting. I don't know, though, whether that's an independent sense (which, if so, we lack), or the "sudden movement" sense.​—msh210 (talk) 01:18, 18 January 2012 (UTC)

I would think it a specific narrowing of meaning derived from the more generic sense for both PoSes. DCDuring TALK 16:02, 21 January 2012 (UTC)

A distinction without a difference?Edit

3. (US, slang, pejorative) A dull or stupid person. 4. (US, slang, pejorative) A person with unlikable or obnoxious qualities and behavior, typically mean, self-centered or disagreeable.

Are there examples of 3, that wouldn't be covered by a simple blurring of 4?

Rich Farmbrough, 02:46, 29 October 2014 (UTC).

Etymology of the "unlikable person" sense.Edit

How is the "unlikable person" sense derived from the motion? bd2412 T 18:08, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

Could it refer to masturbation (like "jerk off", "wanker", "tosser", etc.)? Equinox 20:47, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
If it helps, the oldest reference that I can find is Frederick Hugh Herbert, A Girl Can Tell: Comedy in Three Acts (1954), page 86:
BILL. He was a jerk. (He puts his arm around her shoulder and nibbles on her ear, very amorous now.)
JENNIFER. (Pointing to another snapshot.) And he was a love.
BILL. He was a jerk too. In fact — they were all jerks.
bd2412 T 22:10, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Wait, I found an older one: Frank Graham, The Brooklyn Dodgers: An Informal History (1945), page 167: And Krug grinned at Joyce and said: "Don't be a jerk." "A jerk!" Joyce was hysterical now. "I'll show you who's a jerk!"
I am also seeing some snippet view hits going back as early as 1939. The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English: J-Z says that it means an idiot or a fool going back to 1919. bd2412 T 22:22, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Return to "jerk" page.