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

  • n. A crossbar with two U-shaped pieces that encircle the necks of a pair of oxen or other draft animals working together.
  • n. A pair of draft animals, such as oxen, joined by a yoke.
  • n. A bar used with a double harness to connect the collar of each horse to the pole of a wagon or coach.
  • n. A frame designed to be carried across a person's shoulders with equal loads suspended from each end.
  • n. Nautical A crossbar on a ship's rudder to which the steering cables are connected.
  • n. A clamp or vise that holds a machine part in place or controls its movement or that holds two such parts together.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Something that connects or joins together; a bond or tie.
  • n. Electronics A series of two or more magnetic recording heads fastened securely together for playing or recording on more than one track simultaneously.
  • n. 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.
  • n. The condition of being subjugated by or as if by a conqueror; subjugation or bondage: 14th-century Russia under the Tartar yoke; the yoke of drug addiction.
  • transitive v. To fit or join with a yoke.
  • transitive v. To harness a draft animal to.
  • transitive v. To harness (a draft animal) to a vehicle or an implement.
  • transitive v. To join securely as if with a yoke; bind: partners who were yoked together for life.
  • transitive v. To force into heavy labor, bondage, or subjugation.
  • intransitive v. To become joined securely.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A bar or frame of wood by which two oxen are joined at the heads or necks for working together.
  • n. A pair (of animals, especially oxen).
  • n. A frame made to fit the neck and shoulders of a person, used for carrying a pair of buckets, etc., one at each end of the frame.
  • n. A burden; something which represses or restrains a person.
  • n. The part of a shirt that stretches over the shoulders, usually made out of a doubled piece of fabric. Or, a pair of fabric panels on trousers (especially jeans) or a skirt, across the back of the garment below the waistband.
  • n. Well-developed muscles of the neck and shoulders.
  • n. The column-mounted control wheel of an aircraft.
  • n. The electro-magnetic coil that deflects the electron beam in a CRT (Cathode Ray Tube).
  • n. A fitting placed across the head of the rudder with a line attached at each end by which a boat may be steered. In modern use it is primarily found in sailing canoes and kayaks.
  • n. An alternative name for a cowpoke.
  • n. An undefined object, a gadget.
  • n. Common misspelling of yolk.
  • v. To link or to join.
  • v. To unite, to connect.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A bar or frame of wood by which two oxen are joined at the heads or necks for working together.
  • n. A frame or piece resembling a yoke, as in use or shape.
  • n. A frame of wood fitted to a person's shoulders for carrying pails, etc., suspended on each side.
  • n. A frame worn on the neck of an animal, as a cow, a pig, a goose, to prevent passage through a fence.
  • n. A frame or convex piece by which a bell is hung for ringing it. See Illust. of Bell.
  • n. A crosspiece upon the head of a boat's rudder. To its ends lines are attached which lead forward so that the boat can be steered from amidships.
  • n. A bent crosspiece connecting two other parts.
  • n. A tie securing two timbers together, not used for part of a regular truss, but serving a temporary purpose, as to provide against unusual strain.
  • n. A band shaped to fit the shoulders or the hips, and joined to the upper full edge of the waist or the skirt.
  • n. Fig.: That which connects or binds; a chain; a link; a bond connection.
  • n. A mark of servitude; hence, servitude; slavery; bondage; service.
  • n. Two animals yoked together; a couple; a pair that work together.
  • n. The quantity of land plowed in a day by a yoke of oxen.
  • n. A portion of the working day.
  • n. A clamp or similar piece that embraces two other parts to hold or unite them in their respective or relative positions, as a strap connecting a slide valve to the valve stem, or the soft iron block or bar permanently connecting the pole pieces of an electromagnet, as in a dynamo.
  • intransitive v. To be joined or associated; to be intimately connected; to consort closely; to mate.
  • transitive v. To put a yoke on; to join in or with a yoke.
  • transitive v. To couple; to join with another.
  • transitive v. To enslave; to bring into bondage; to restrain; to confine.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Hence, something resembling this apparatus in form or use.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A cross-bar or curved piece from which a large bell is suspended for ringing.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A branch-pipe, or a two-way coupling for pipes, particularly twin hot- and cold-water pipes that unite in their discharge.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A carriage-clip for uniting two parts of the running-gear.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. In wheelwrighting, the overlap tire-bolt washer used at the joints of the fellies.
  • n. (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.
  • n. An emblem, token, or mark of servitude, slavery, and sometimes of suffering generally.
  • n. Something which couples, connects, or binds together; a bond of connection; a link; a tie.
  • n. A chain or ridge of hills; also, a single hill in a chain: obsolete, but still retained in some place-names: as, Troutbeck Yoke.
  • n. A pair; couple; brace: said of things united by some link, especially of draft-animals: very rarely of persons, in contempt.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Synonyms Brace, etc. See pair.
  • n. A dialectal variant of yox, yex. Also yolk.

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

  • n. stable gear that joins two draft animals at the neck so they can work together as a team
  • v. put a yoke on or join with a yoke
  • v. become joined or linked together
  • n. support consisting of a wooden frame across the shoulders that enables a person to carry buckets hanging from each end
  • n. fabric comprising a fitted part at the top of a garment
  • n. a connection (like a clamp or vise) between two things so they move together
  • n. two items of the same kind
  • v. link with or as with a yoke
  • n. an oppressive power
  • n. a pair of draft animals joined by a yoke


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

Middle English, from Old English geoc.

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

  • July 28, 2007