Wednesday’s Word: jerk

You know you’re a jerk if you are:

–an annoyingly stupid or foolish person (Merriam-Webster)

–a contemptibly naive, fatuous, foolish, or inconsequential person (dictionary.com)

–a dull, stupid, fatuous person (vocabulary.com)

–a person regarded with contempt, esp. a stupid or ignorant person (Collins English Dictionary)

Or, if we go to the Urban Dictionary, we find some more specific types that qualify under that heading:

— a person who does not use their turn signal.

— final stage of evolution of any male who spent at least one year dating in America, no matter his origin (very likely entered into this crowd-sourced dictionary by a woman)

— mandatory mindset for self-survival within corporate America 

There are other definitions of jerk, I just chose to focus on the most colorful one. Commonly, jerk is used as a verb to describe a quick, sudden movement. You may jerk your dog’s leash when you see he’s about to investigate a dead varmint. Or a magician might jerk a tablecloth out from under a set table without breaking any dishes.

soda jerk
soda jerk

In the Caribbean, jerk suggests something to eat. It is a style of cooking, usually meat, that involves a dry rub and a wood fire. If you’re lifting weights, a jerk gets the bar up skyward. 

What’s curious about the word jerk is how it can be transformed by adding a few letters here and there. A tearjerker is so sad it literally makes you want to cry. Usually this is used to describe a book or movie.

There is no consensus as to whether proper usage is jerkoff, jerk-off or jerk off. I’m going to use it as one word. The most literal definition involves male masturbation. But it is commonly used as a more venomous variation of jerk. 

Jerk can be used a bit light-heartedly in a teasing, playful manner. But there is no such ambiguity about the intent if you step up to the more pointed jerkoff.

Jerkwater is a dismissive description of something, usually a town or place, as being insignificant. Jerky is a dubious looking piece of dried meat that you chew on, A jerkin is a  tight-fitting men’s jacket. (In fact, in all its various definitions, jerk is a very masculine word.)

For example, circle jerk. The dictionaries willing to touch this one describe it as group male masturbation. But I’ve always used it in a completely different way. A circle jerk is a corporate business meeting in which a group of participants sit around a conference table and each competes to hold the floor to describe to everyone else what a brilliant job they are doing. (Likely the same on Zoom.)

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1 Response to Wednesday’s Word: jerk

  1. A.P. says:

    I like your definition of “circle jerk.”

    Liked by 2 people

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