Definition of knee-jerk in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈnē ˈˌjərk/


1(Of a response) automatic and unthinking: a knee-jerk reaction
More example sentences
  • Mr Butler said a carbon tax was ‘a knee-jerk response to a global and complex problem’ and that a more sophisticated and appropriately costed solution would be necessary.
  • Jones accused the American authorities of a knee-jerk response to its corporate scandals and said it was symptomatic of a protectionist economy.
  • So just be careful before you leap forward with a knee-jerk response demanding gun control.
1.1(Of a person) responding in an automatic and unthinking way: knee-jerk radicals
More example sentences
  • You're all looking like a bunch of knee-jerk reactionaries.
  • People who think he isn't very smart are either knee-jerk liberals or not paying very close attention.
  • They still managed to produce a perfectly reasonable constitutional document that deserves far more respect than it has received from the knee-jerk critics here at home.


A sudden involuntary reflex kick caused by a blow on the tendon just below the knee.
Example sentences
  • Apart from involuntary knee-jerks, it's the mind that rules.
  • Too often this country resorts to the knee-jerk in order to effect social change, maybe we just need to be a bit more inventive in the way we approach the problem.
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words