Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Remote, small, and insignificant.
  • adjective Contemptibly trivial.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective small and remote and insignificant.
  • adjective (Railroads), Archaic Off the main railroad line.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun US A train on a branch line.
  • adjective US, colloquial, pejorative Of an inhabited place, small, insignificant, backward

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective small and remote and insignificant

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From jerkwater, a branch-line train, so called because its small boiler had to be refilled often, requiring train crews to “jerk” or draw water from streams.]

Examples

  • From Daggett, a forsaken station of the Santa Fé Railroad, a "jerkwater" road, as it is called, extends northward to Goldfield and Tonopah, and this road takes one almost as the crow flies to the edge of the valley of the ominous name.

    Wealth of the World's Waste Places and Oceania

  • He had actually built up the Hendrickton and Pas Alos from a narrow-gauge, "jerkwater" road into a part of a great cross-continent system that tapped a wonderfully rich territory on both sides of the

    Tom Swift and His Electric Locomotive, or, Two Miles a Minute on the Rails

  • Or have deranged boosters and desperate civic organizations hellbent on reviving the local economy threatened to break journalists' legs if they leave some jerkwater dump off the list of the 10 Best Places to Spend Your Golden Years?

    Ten Best Places to Read About Silly Lists

  • March 25th, 2010 at 11: 53 am tombaker says: jerkwater jihadis are not real patriots.

    Think Progress » McCain refuses to condemn Palin’s ‘reload’ rhetoric.

  • From dire threats, such as pushing in the front of his face, from rabbit-foot fetishes to lucky horseshoes, from dinky jerkwater bids to the quarter-of-a-million-dollar offers of irresponsible nobodies, he knew the whole run of the surprise portion of his mail.

    Chapter I

  • In one, he captures the experience of being from a "jerkwater" town: a village so small that steam-train crews had to "jerk" water up from streams or from people holding buckets along the tracks because there was no water tower from which to refill the engine.

    Hey, Who Are You Calling a Snob?

  • By obtaining control of a certain up-country bank, two general stores, and several logging camps, he could come into control of a certain dinky jerkwater line which shall here be nameless, but which, in his hands, would prove the key to a vastly larger situation involving more main-line mileage almost than there were spikes in the aforesaid dinky jerkwater.

    Winged Blackmail

  • In one, he captures the experience of being from a "jerkwater" town: a village so small that steam-train crews had to "jerk" water up from streams or from people holding buckets along the tracks because there was no water tower from which to refill the engine.

    Hey, Who Are You Calling a Snob?

  • He should be offered the vista of a dignified retirement and the prospect of a vice-presidential library in Scranton, Pennsylvania, that 'absolute jerkwater of a town' where he was raised.

    TBD: A hyperlocal work in progress

  • “Poets As Bad Guy, then and now:” I like to enter small jerkwater towns/with engine roaring, then rock to a stop/and park before a group of local clowns/to make a cigarette-dangling entrance.

    ron offen | 2 poems and more about… « poetry dispatch & other notes from the underground

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