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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
a jerky movement (=with many starts and stops)
▪ the jerky movements of a frightened horse
jerky guys
▪ the jerky motion of old movies
▪ A firm, steady pressure should be applied - avoid jerky movements.
▪ Habitually swims, with jerky forward movement; sometimes dives.
▪ Make irregular pulls, and the kite will respond with similar jerky movements.
▪ On no account should they be pushed straight up or in a jerky movement.
▪ Sea water leaked from his mouth, his breath gasped in jerky spasms.
▪ To compensate for this, they move their heads in a jerky fashion.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

jerky \jerk"y\, n. [Corrupted from Peruv. charqui dried beef.] Meat, especially beef, that has been cut in strips and dried; meat that has been jerked; see first jerk, v.; as, beef jerky


jerky \jerk"y\, a.

  1. Moving by jerks and starts; characterized by abrupt transitions; as, a jerky vehicle; a jerky style.

  2. Foolish; ridiculous; stupid. [slang]

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1850, American English, from American Spanish charqui "jerked meat," from Quechua (Inca) ch'arki "dried flesh."


"characterized by jerks," 1858, from jerk (v.1) + -y (2). Related: Jerkily; jerkiness.


Etymology 1 a. Characterized by physical jerking. Etymology 2

n. Lean meat cured and preserved by cutting into thin strips and air-drying in the sun.

  1. adj. not having a steady rhythm; "an arrhythmic heartbeat" [syn: arrhythmic, jerking, unsteady]

  2. n. meat cut in strips and dried in the sun [syn: jerked meat]

  3. [also: jerkiest, jerkier]


Jerky is lean meat that has been trimmed of fat, cut into strips, and then dried to prevent spoilage. Normally, this drying includes the addition of salt, to prevent bacteria from developing on the meat before sufficient moisture has been removed. The word "jerky" derived from the Quechua word ch'arki which means "dried, salted meat". All that is needed to produce basic "jerky" is a low-temperature drying method, and salt to inhibit bacterial growth.

Modern manufactured jerky is normally marinated in a seasoned spice rub or liquid, and dried, dehydrated or smoked with low heat (usually under 70 °C/160 °F). Some product manufacturers finely grind meat, mix in seasonings, and press the meat-paste into flat shapes prior to drying.

The resulting jerky from the above methods would be a salty and/or savory snack. However, often a sweet or semi-sweet recipe is used, with sugar being a major ingredient (in contrast to biltong which is a dried meat product that utilizes the acid in vinegar rather than salt to inhibit bacterial growth when drying the meat). Jerky is ready-to-eat and needs no additional preparation. It can be stored for months without refrigeration. When the protein to moisture content ratio is correct, the resulting meat is cured, or preserved.

There are many products in the marketplace which are sold as jerky which consist of highly processed, chopped and formed meat, rather than traditional sliced, whole-muscle meat. These products may contain more fat, but moisture content, like the whole-muscle product, must meet a 0.75 to 1 moisture to protein ratio in the US. Chemical preservatives can be used to prevent oxidative spoilage, but the moisture to protein ratio prevents microbial spoilage by low water activity. Many jerky products are very high in sugar and are therefore very sweet, unlike biltong, which rarely contains added sugars.

A typical 30 g portion of fresh jerky contains 10–15 g of protein, 1 g of fat, and 0–3 g of carbohydrates, although some beef jerky can have more than 65% of protein content. Since traditional jerky recipes use a basic salt cure, sodium can be a concern for some people. A 30 g serving of jerky could contain more than 600 mg of sodium, which would be about 30% of the recommended USRDA.

Usage examples of "jerky".

And the commander, turning to look at the adjutant, directed his jerky steps down the line.

And just now the bumping of the Tube train shaped his emotion into something that began with Success that poisons many a baser mind With thoughts of self, may lift-- but stopped there because, when he changed into another train, the jerkier movement altered the rhythm into something more lyrical, and he got somewhat confused between the two and ended by losing both.

Bethel gave us haoma, biscuits, and jerky for a midday meal, and sat down to eat with us herself.

She struck across the tufty grass, following the line of the fence bordering the main road but keeping fifty or so yards inside it and moving at a jerky half crouch.

Not the easiest thing to do without so much as a pot or blanket between us, and no food save for the jerky and waybread we had in our pouches.

Fruit, sweet and stickythin bare twigs tangled amid a bluest skythe jerky pain of hair caught too tighta tiny bird with stilled wings glued to the tendrils of a webby clouda huge lump of packed-down exultation struggling to be born, then suddenly soaring free, freeoh, in such an ecstasy!

Tired of biscuits and jerky, especially since she did not care for meat, Wynn had purchased dried lentils, barley, onions, and carrots, as well as late pears and smoke-dried fish.

Oriole was cleaning the baby Quail, Fox was helping her, and Antelope was packing the jerky.

Only one jerky thrust and Mank was coming, too, stars flashing before his eyes.

A liberal sprinkling of black-and-white people -- persons who are accessing the Metaverse through cheap public terminals, and who are rendered in jerky, grainy black and white.

Then, pocketing his glittering revolver with a defiant, jerky motion, Sark shifted a squarish package under his arm and stalked along the street and around a corner.

Michaele slammed the squeegee on top of the pump and with jerky movements replaced the nozzle in its holder.

Lightning was so frequent that often the land seemed to be lit by a stroboscope, with everything moving in a jerky slow motion.

Perhaps because she was unencumbered by petticoat or buttoned bodice or long overskirt tied back at the sides or buckle shoes with light cotton stockings, in short because she was not dressed as I was, even in my unpreparedness for the street, she was at my side in a few jerky moves before I was even five steps closer to the door.

In a jerky nervous motion I reached back a hundred years and into the blurry outlines of unsolid iron.