You don’t like “jerks” or a person who’s “chicken,” so why is something so delicious called “jerk chicken?”

Yum. Jerk sauce, which is commonly used to marinate chicken and pork, contains a spicy seasoning mixture that is flavored with allspice. It is used in Jamaican cooking. And on grills all summer long.

First of all, jerk chicken is different from jerky, a favorite convenience store snack. Jerky is preserved, cured meat made by cutting it into strips, then drying the pieces in the sun. It derives from ch’arki, which in Quechua (a Native American language) means “dried flesh.”

There isn’t a clear sense of the origin for the scrumptious and tangy sense of jerk. It has Caribbean roots, and may have a connection to the Arawaks, a people who lived around the area and who happen to be the source of barbecue.

Chicken starts off as the Old English cycen as “a young fowl” and gradually expands to designate any chicken. The association with cowardice goes back to the 14th century, but one didn’t “chicken out” until the 1940s. The game of chicken, immortalized in “Rebel Without a Cause,” dates from 1953.

Everyone knows that the type of jerk you don’t eat and that doesn’t twitch is best served with a side dish of derision. This slang term possibly comes from the unusual railroad phrase “jerkwater town,” where a steam locomotive crew had to take on boiler water from a trough or a creek because there was no water tank. This led to a use of the word as “inferior or insignificant.”

When confronted with a jerk, you may have a knee-jerk reaction. This expression connects to the oldest meaning of the word, the involuntary spasm you feel when your patellar reflex is tapped.

In weightlifting, a jerk is the raising of a weight from shoulder height to above the head by straightening the arms.

Do you “do the Jerk?” It’s a dance derived from the Twist. Try alternately thrusting out your pelvis and your shoulders.

The word soda jerk has fallen out of fashion, though it still refers to someone who prepares, dispenses, and serves sodas and ice creams at a soda fountain. The profession is named from the pulling motion that is required to work the taps.

(And what does soda have to do with sodium, anyhow? Here’s the answer.)

And last, but not least, are hypnic jerks. Never heard of them? Click here to find out why they may be keeping you up at night.

Shelters offer specials on adult cats

Charleston Daily Mail August 18, 2009 | LINDA LOMBARDI Patrick Boehringer of Canton, Mich., couldn’t be a more satisfied customer. He calls Apricot, his Certified Pre-Owned Cat, “the best animal I ever had.” Apricot came with a free “multipoint inspection” including spay/ neuter surgery, vaccinations, behavioral evaluation and grooming. And you can’t beat the price: As the Certified Pre-Owned Cats campaign poster says, with no money down, no financing and no payments, these cats are “better than new!” The Michigan Humane Society’s clever ad campaign is an effort to draw attention to a problem that shelters all over the country are dealing with: the large number of adult cats looking for homes.

Mike Robbins, director of marketing and communications for the Michigan Humane Society, says that in the shelter world, “summer has always been known as cat season.” With cats normally breeding in the warm weather, shelters are deluged with kittens and have trouble finding homes for their adult cats.

Economic conditions seem to be aggravating the problem this year. At the Animal Protection Society of Durham, N.C., director of community outreach Simon Woodrup says that the number of pets they took in June, for example, is up to 825 this year, from fewer than 700 last year.

At the Santa Fe, N.M., Humane Society, they’re calling it “Summer of 100 Cats,” and adoption supervisor Mark Young says “we probably should have called it 500.” Kittens still get adopted quickly, says Dori Villalon, vice president of the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but it’s harder to find homes for adult cats than for kittens or dogs. site michigan humane society

“Cats outnumber dogs three-to-one at our shelter,” she says. “The pet overpopulation problem in this country has really become a cat overpopulation problem.” Simon says that the economy seems to be a factor in many cases, judging by owner-surrender questionnaires. “The one thing that we have seen a lot of is people saying I can’t afford it,” he says.

Part of the problem is that people who are forced to move, either because of foreclosure or simply needing to downsize, can have a hard time finding pet-friendly apartments, Young says. These owner surrenders are likely to be the adult animals, which are harder to place.

As a result, shelters all over the country have been inspired to offer special no-fee or reduced fee adult cats adoption specials. In the past, shelters worried about whether no-fee adoptions would reduce the value that people placed on their pets, and Robbins said that the Michigan Humane Society considered this carefully before offering their program. go to site michigan humane society

In fact, in their trial program, and in a study conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there was no difference between people who’d adopted for free and those who had paid a fee.

“We’ve found there’s been no increase in return rates, which are already low as it is,” he says.

Robbins attributes this success to the fact that they use the same thorough adoption process to make sure that the animal is going to a home that’s a good fit, as in the case of the Boehringer family. It was the adoption counselor’s assistance and detailed questions that brought them together with a cat that will play fetch with his 17-month-old son.

“They actually roll around on the ground together,” Boehringer said. “When the cat wants to play it jumps on my son and they go off running.” The Michigan Humane Society is so pleased with the success of the no-fee program that they’re extending it for the foreseeable future. And all over the country, shelter owners are hoping people will check out their own pre-owned cats, “certified” or not.



  1. Anti-Joke Chicken -  November 1, 2011 - 6:11 am

    I found this very relative to me.

    Also, how did you get a picture of me?

    The internet.

  2. outofcigarette -  August 6, 2010 - 11:38 pm

    If a man is a jerk, not necessarily a villan, but he ends up in one since he has an idiosyncratic urge to avoid knee-jerk situations in life. What do you call those who turn themselves into more hyper-anonymous communication in interacting with others such as net additive hacking or telepatheic-hypnic jerks-dreaming? The first one might be a geek, I was told, then, the latter would be what? Any idea? Talking about a hypnic dream, I had one last night although I do not remember too well.

  3. shannon -  August 6, 2010 - 2:51 pm

    These are cool quotes – normally i just look up words on this site but this peeked my interest and i actually clicked somewhere else on the website.

  4. Paultx -  August 6, 2010 - 1:11 pm

    In Brazilian Portuguese, “ch’arki” became “charque”, which is synonym of “carne-seca” (dried-flesh).

  5. JERK CHICKEN | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  August 6, 2010 - 11:44 am

    [...] dictcom hot word was once “HYPNIC JERK” and so on today it’s “JERK CHICKEN”. — Has the world of HOT English words today come down to finger licken — We know our [...]

  6. Parch -  August 6, 2010 - 11:41 am

    Lets pay homage to the first “jerk chicken”… Foghorn Leghorn!

    Also, what about one of Steve Martin’s greatest roles, playing “The Jerk”?

    a fun article! thanks!


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