Yoke vs. yolk

Yoke and yolk aren’t exactly homophones, but they are sometimes confused due to their closeness in sound. Yolk (which can be a count noun or a mass noun) is the yellow portion of an egg. A yoke is the crossbar that encircles the necks of a pair of oxen or other draft animals. It’s usually metaphorical, often as part of the phrases throw off the yoke and under the yoke. 

Examples

Eager to throw off the yoke of government ownership, the U.K.’s two partially state-owned banks have been quietly moving to stir investor interest in U.K government holdings of their stocks. [Wall Street Journal]

In another large bowl, combine the egg yolks and salt. [AP]

It sits on the plate, looking like a perfectly cooked, sunny side-up egg — except the yolk tastes like spiced carrots and the white is made from coconut milk. [San Jose Mercury News]

Others pointed to the importance of upholding press freedom in a country that has been under the yoke of Soviet rule for decades. [The Independent]

Comments

  1. Funny, this.

    As a kid, ‘cuz my Mom used to say “eat the yoke, son… its good for you”, i knew the yellow part was the yoke, and that was that. Then, in the second grade or so, we were introduced to the idea that quite unexpectedly, the yoke was spelled yolk, and oh-lordy-would-mom-be-mad, even pronounced with a little L in there. Yolk. It sounded (to me) more foreign, dirtier. Ne’r liked that part of the egg much, and now it sounded worse.

    Today, having been inculcated in the mysteriously right ways to spell and pronounce things, I hear “YOLK” with a tiny L in my head. I tend to pronounce it out-loud with an even tinier L, hinting towards vestigial. And in fast-kitchen-conversation, it remains safely YOKE. “No, Jacques! I need 6 YOKES for this flan… ya bûm! (laughs….)”

    GoatGuy

  2. Chris Johnston says:

    My sister once mocked me for pronouncing “yolk” with a velarised “l”.

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