- n, adj(a person) displaying a reflex action, an unthinking, automatic reaction. This piece of American slang of the early 1970s has passed into general collo-quial use since its adoption as part of disparaging descriptions such as 'knee-jerk liberal' or 'knee-jerk reactionary'. The expression of course derives from the doctors' testing of the patellar reflex, featured in cartoons and situa-tion comedies since the mid-1950s.
Contemporary slang . 2014.
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knee-jerk — is a popularized technicality taken from the physical meaning ‘a sudden involuntary kick caused by a blow on the tendon just below the knee when the leg is hanging loose’. It is now popular among politicians, broadcasters, etc., especially in the … Modern English usage
Knee jerk — (Physiol.) A jerk or forward kick of the lower part of the leg produced by a blow or sudden strain upon the patellar tendon of the knee, which causes a sudden contraction of the quadriceps muscle; the patellar reflex. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
knee-jerk — adj [only before noun] a knee jerk reaction, answer etc is what you feel or say about a situation from habit, without thinking about it = ↑automatic ▪ A victim s knee jerk reaction to the crime is often revenge … Dictionary of contemporary English
knee-jerk — knee ,jerk adjective only before noun a knee jerk reaction is immediate and not carefully considered: Calling for longer prison sentences is just a knee jerk reaction to a rise in crime … Usage of the words and phrases in modern English
Knee jerk — Knee jerk, n. emotional and predictable; of certain people and their reactions to events. [PJC] … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
knee-jerk — knee′ jerk adj. cvb Informal. reacting in an automatic, habitual manner; unthinking: a knee jerk liberal[/ex] • Etymology: 1895–1900 … From formal English to slang
knee-jerk — ☆ knee jerk [nē′jʉrk΄ ] adj. [< KNEE JERK] Informal designating, characterized by, or reacting with an automatic, predictable response … English World dictionary
knee-jerk — ► NOUN ▪ an involuntary reflex kick caused by a blow on the tendon just below the knee. ► ADJECTIVE ▪ automatic and unthinking: a kneejerk reaction … English terms dictionary
knee-jerk — patellar reflex, neurological phenomenon discovered and named 1876; the figurative use appeared soon after the phrase was coined … Etymology dictionary
knee jerk — knee′ jerk n. phl a reflex extension of the leg resulting from a sharp tap on the patellar tendon • Etymology: 1875–80 … From formal English to slang
knee jerk — n. PATELLAR REFLEX … English World dictionary