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

  • noun A contoured crossbar having two U-shaped attachments that fit around the necks of a team of oxen or other draft animals, with a central ring for hitching the team to a cart, plow, or other load.
  • noun A pair of draft animals, such as oxen, joined by a yoke.
  • noun A bar used with a double harness to connect the collar of each horse to the pole of a wagon or coach.
  • noun A frame designed to be carried across a person's shoulders with equal loads suspended from each end.
  • noun Nautical A crossbar on a ship's rudder to which the steering cables are connected.
  • noun A clamp or vise that holds a machine part in place or controls its movement or that holds two such parts together.
  • noun A piece of a garment that is closely fitted, either around the neck and shoulders or at the hips, and from which an unfitted or gathered part of the garment is hung.
  • noun Something that connects or joins together; a bond or tie.
  • noun Electronics A series of two or more magnetic recording heads fastened securely together for playing or recording on more than one track simultaneously.
  • noun Any of various emblems of subjugation, such as a structure made of two upright spears with a third laid across them, under which conquered enemies of ancient Rome were forced to march in subjection.
  • noun The condition of being subjugated by or as if by a conqueror; subjugation or bondage.
  • intransitive verb To fit or join with a yoke.
  • intransitive verb To harness a draft animal to.
  • intransitive verb To harness (a draft animal) to a vehicle or an implement.
  • intransitive verb To join together; bind.
  • intransitive verb To force into heavy labor, bondage, or subjugation.
  • intransitive verb To become joined.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In carpentry, the cross-piece at the head of a wooden window-frame, which forms the head of a window as the sill forms the foot. Compare head-sill.
  • To put a yoke on.
  • To join or couple by means of a yoke.
  • To join; couple; link; unite.
  • To restrain; confine; oppress; enslave.
  • To put horses or other draft-animals to. Compare the colloquial phrase to harness a wagon.
  • To be joined together; go along with.
  • noun A contrivance of great antiquity, by which a pair of draft-animals, particularly oxen, are fastened together, usually consisting of a piece of timber, hollowed or made curving near each end, and fitted with bows for receiving the necks of the animals.
  • noun Hence, something resembling this apparatus in form or use.
  • noun A frame of wood attached to the neck of an animal to prevent it from creeping under a fence or gate, or from jumping over a fence.
  • noun A cross-bar or curved piece from which a large bell is suspended for ringing.
  • noun Nautical, a bar attached to the rudder-head, and projecting in each direction sidewise. To the ends are attached the yoke-ropes or yoke-lines, which are pulled by the steersman in rowboats, or pass to the drum on the axis of the steering-wheel in larger craft.
  • noun A kind of band or supporting piece to which are fastened the plaited, gathered, or otherwise falling and depending parts of a garment, and which by its shape causes these parts to hang in a certain way: as, the yoke of a shirt, which is a double piece of stuff carried around the neck and over the shoulders, and from which the whole body of the shirt hangs; the yoke of a skirt, which supports the fullness from the hips downward.
  • noun A branch-pipe, or a two-way coupling for pipes, particularly twin hot- and cold-water pipes that unite in their discharge.
  • noun In a grain-elevator, the head-frame or top of the elevator, where the elevator-belt or lifter passes over the upper drum, and where the cups discharge into the shoot.
  • noun A carriage-clip for uniting two parts of the running-gear.
  • noun A double journal-bearing having two journals united by bars or rods, that pass on each side of the pulley, the shafting being supported by both journals: used in some forms of dynamos to carry the armature; a yoke-arbor.
  • noun A pair of iron clamps of semicircular shape, with a cross screw and nut at each end for tightening them around heavy pipes or other objects, for attaching the ropes when hoisting or lowering into position by power.
  • noun In wheelwrighting, the overlap tire-bolt washer used at the joints of the fellies.
  • noun (I) In an electromagnet consisting of two parallel cores joined across one pair of ends to form a U- or horseshoe-shaped magnet, the cross-bar joining the ends is called the yoke of the magnet.
  • noun An emblem, token, or mark of servitude, slavery, and sometimes of suffering generally.
  • noun Something which couples, connects, or binds together; a bond of connection; a link; a tie.
  • noun A chain or ridge of hills; also, a single hill in a chain: obsolete, but still retained in some place-names: as, Troutbeck Yoke.
  • noun A pair; couple; brace: said of things united by some link, especially of draft-animals: very rarely of persons, in contempt.
  • noun As much land as may be plowed by a pair of oxen in a day; hence, as much work generally as is done at a stretch; also, a part of the working-day, as from meal-time to meal-time, in which labor is carried on without interruption. Compare yokelet.
  • noun Synonyms Brace, etc. See pair.
  • noun A dialectal variant of yox, yex. Also yolk.

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

  • noun A bar or frame of wood by which two oxen are joined at the heads or necks for working together.
  • noun A frame or piece resembling a yoke, as in use or shape.
  • noun A frame of wood fitted to a person's shoulders for carrying pails, etc., suspended on each side.


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

[Middle English, from Old English geoc; see yeug- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English ġeoc, from Proto-Indo-European *yugóm. Cognate with Dutch juk, German Joch, Latin iugum (English jugular), Greek ζυγός (zugós, "yoke"), Sanskrit युग (yugā, "yoke, team"), Old Church Slavonic иго (igo) (Russian иго), Persian یوغ (yogh). Compare yoga.


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  • And nobody, nobody knows

    Let the yoke fall from our shoulders

    Don’t carry it all, don’t carry it all

    We are all our hands and holders

    Beneath this bold and brilliant sun

    And this I swear to all.

    (Don't carry it all, by The Decemberists)

    January 24, 2011