Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: yoke; yolk.

yoke; yolk. “Yoke” = (1) a twice-curved, usu. wooden beam with U-shaped brackets beneath to enclose the necks of two oxen or other draft animals {after a struggle, the oxen were fitted into the yoke}; or (2) a pair of animals suitable for yoking {a yoke of oxen}. “Yolk” = the yellow center of an egg {he liked omelettes made with egg whites — he didn’t miss the yolks}. “Yoke” is sometimes a verb; “yolk” never is. With this pair, word-swapping is fairly common. Sometimes “yolk” is misused for “yoke” — e.g.: o “A couple of Jacqueline Ott’s sculptures are quite cunning: [for example,] two flat plywood umbrellas yolked [read ‘yoked’] together like Siamese twins.” William Zimmer, “Spirited Shows in New Haven,” N.Y. Times, 27 July 1986, § 11, at 26. o “But now that information is king, members of the media monde have thrown off the yolk [read ‘yoke’] of oppression and now mostly cover each other, cutting out silly distractions.” David Brooks, “Media Monde,” Wall Street J., 28 Apr. 2000, at W17. o “She glances across the Cow Camp, studying the salted ham hanging from the shingles, the oxen yolk [read ‘yoke’] draped over the back fence, the spurs and the skillets and the bull skull nailed to the roof.” Lane DeGregory, “The Cracker Life,” St. Petersburg Times, 15 Feb. 2002, at D1. The reverse error, though uncommon, does occur — e.g.: “I was stunned by the mix of aquamarine, luscious tans, dusty reds, yellow of egg yoke [read ‘yolk’], the turquoise as mute as a lizard.” Sean Connolly, “One Nation, Cool and Damp,” Pitt. Post-Gaz., 30 Aug. 1997, at A9. Language-Change Index — (1) “yolk” misused for “yoke”: Stage 1; (2) “yoke” misused for “yolk”: Stage 1. For more information about the Language-Change Index click here. Quotation of the Day: “Good writers are those who keep the language efficient. That is to say, keep it accurate, keep it clear.” Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading 32 (1934).
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