Definition of knee-jerk in English:

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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.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: knee-jerk

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