Word of the day

October 24, 2007 9:43 am Published by

So I get the Merriam-Webster word of the day email and below is today’s word of the day.

jerkwater \JERK-waw-ter\ adjective

*1 : remote and unimportant
2 : trivial

Example sentence:
“We’re stranded in some jerkwater town in the middle of nowhere,” said Larry when he called to tell us that the car’s engine had blown.

See a map of “jerkwater” in the Visual Thesaurus.

Did you know?
We owe the colorful Americanism “jerkwater” to the invention of the steam engine — an advancement that significantly accelerated travel by rail but also had its drawbacks. One drawback was that the boilers of the early locomotives needed to be refilled with water frequently, and water tanks were few and far between. As a result, the small trains that ran on rural branch lines often had to stop to take on water from local supplies. Such trains were commonly called “jerkwaters” from the motion of jerking the water up in buckets from the supply to the engine. The derogatory use of “jerkwater” for things unimportant or trivial reflects the fact that these jerkwater trains typically ran on lines connecting small middle-of-nowhere towns.

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.


Daniel N. Hamrin

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This post was written by The Bruce Blog


  • George says:

    When will Merriam-Webster recognize “Jerkstore”? Thats what I want to know.

  • Shannon says:

    Me, being a drinker of a gallon of water a day and a lover of beef jerky, was on her way to having a clitoral erection until she read the real meaning of the word. Beef jerky flavored water….would it get any more glorious than that?? Thanks a lot for ruining my day. Now someone get me a napkin for my lap..