Yoke vs Yolk? When to Use Each One in a Sentence

yoke vs yolk

Though homophones have their purpose, one cannot deny that they confuse writers, particularly those who are just getting started. And if the two similar-sounding words can be synonyms of each other, things only get more complicated. “Yoke” and “yolk” are homophones or maybe not, based on how you pronounce the terms.

The noun “yoke” signifies “servitude”. As a verb, it means “bringing things together, literally or figuratively”. “Yolk” is the yellow part of an egg loaded with nutrients. “Yolk” can be pronounced as “yoke”. But the two terms are not interchangeable terms, despite what some dictionaries may suggest.

In this article, the terms “yoke” and “yolk” will be discussed at length. The differences between them with regard to their meanings and how they get incorporated into texts, etc., will be covered. Keep reading to know better.

“Yoke” – Definition

The term “yoke” means “servitude” or “bondage”. “Yoke” can also denote a thing that connects or binds, which could be people, animals, things, ideas, etc. “Yoke” can be quite a confusing term for some, and its listed meaning could be slightly or totally different based on the online dictionary you’re perusing.

yoke sign of the word in white background

When used as a noun, it typically means “a thing that brings about suffering, pain, or freedom loss”. The term can also be used as a verb, meaning “to join together” or “to harness or secure”.

The device “yoke” is a tool with which livestock are harnessed. It is typically used to join together a pair of oxen or draft animals. The tool typically comprises a crosspiece with a couple of bow-shaped pieces that enclose the animal’s head individually.

Synonyms or related terms for the noun form of the word include “conjugal”, “junction”, “join”, “union”, and “subjugate”. Synonyms for the verb include “chain”, “catenate”, “connect”, “couple”, “hook”, “interconnect”, “join”, “interlink”, etc.

Not to mention, the term has its roots in the Anglo-Saxon period, where it was spelled as “geoc”, “ioc”, and “geoc”.

“Yolk” – Definition

Also called “vitellus”, “yolk” denotes “the yellow/orange portion of an egg”. Most egg-laying animals have yolks in their eggs. However, some egg varieties may not contain any yolk, primarily due to the animal’s health or the conditions in which it was raised.

The yolk is a rich source of vitamins, fats, minerals, proteins, and lipids. The proteins partly work as food and partially to regulate the supply and storage of other nutrients. For instance, in certain species, the quantity of yolk in a particular egg cell impacts the developmental processes following fertilization. Unlike the protoplasm, yolks are not living cell materials.

Like “yoke”, “yolk” too is rooted in Old English, referred to as “geoloca”, “geolca”, or “gioleca”.

Using the Word “Yoke” in Writings

The word “yoke” is not as common as some established writers may like to believe, particularly when compared to “yolk”. Since the word denotes “bondage”, which may imply “slavery” or “lack of freedom”, the term is most likely to be found in slightly older texts or writings that discuss the past. For example:

  • During those periods, several territories in Asia and Africa emerged as new countries, having freed themselves from the yoke of colonialism.
  • The women writers were urged to break away from the yoke of romanticism.

“Yoke” can be used both as a noun or as a verb. The noun “yoke” could be used metaphorically as well. For example, the metaphor “equally yoked” is used in a few conventional religious wedding ceremonies.

Here is a sentence that employs “yoke” as a verb:

  • Yoke the animal to the wagon.
  • Yoke the donkeys together to pull the plow.

If the above sentences sound awkward or unfamiliar, that’s again because “yoke” is not a commonly used word.

As “yoke” also means to bring together things, it gets incorporated into sentences like the following:

  • A pair of yoked oxen were used.
  • The currencies of the two countries were yoked for several years.

Needless to say, “-ing” and “-ed” can be added to the word instead of “e” to change the tense of the word.

Using the Term “Yolk” in Texts

The word “yolk” is always used as a noun in texts. Unlike “yoke”, it never takes up the verb avatar. Here are a few example sentences incorporating “yolk”, the noun:

  • Egg yolks are mixed with pigments to create a distemper medium.
  • Treating human spermatozoa with an egg yolk medium could boost in vitro fertilization’s outcome.
  • Vitamin B6 found in liver and egg yolk can help prevent dandruff.

In other words, a “yolk” can be separated from the albumen (white) of the egg. But an egg cannot be “yolked”, or you cannot “yolk” eggs. Similarly, two animals can be “yoked” together, but they cannot be “yolked” together.

yolk word in dictionary

The Confusion Between “Yoke” and “Yolk”

Since “yolk” is relatively common in everyday writing and speech, it is at times unintentionally used in scenarios or places wherein “yoke” is the right spelling or the word to use.

The Cause(s) of Confusion

It could be tempting or seem natural to employ “yoke” when referring to the yellow portion of an egg, thanks to the more phonetic spelling of “yoke” compared to “yolk”.

In other words, the letter “l” in “yolk” is silent. This is comparable to how “folk” usually gets pronounced as “foke”, or without the “l”. Pronouncing “yolk” with “l” as silent is not standard and could vary based on the region and/or the individual.

As similar as they might sound, “yoke” is a term by itself and not the other spelling for “yolk”. The reason for “yoke” being perceived as the alternate spelling may have to do with how less it’s being used in modern texts, as mentioned above, particularly when compared to “yolk”. This rare usage of the term has prompted a few dictionaries to list “yoke” as the other spelling of “yolk”.

Possibly, the only other variant for the word “yolk” is “yelk”, which could be found in some technical and scientific texts. Such usage, however, has almost ceased to exist since the latter half of the 19th century.

Remembering the Difference Between “Yoke” and Yolk”

As mentioned above, “yoke” can be either a noun or a verb. “Yolk”, however, is pretty much always a noun. Therefore, if the word needed in a sentence or text is a verb, it’s most likely “yoke”. If the word required is a noun, consider the context in hand.

If you’re talking about food, particularly eggs, it’s always “yolk”. “Yoke” has no connection whatsoever with food or the act of eating. Similarly, when discussing “cholesterol” or health in general, it’s always “yolk” and not “yoke”.

The word “cholesterol” has “l” in it, and “yolk” has the letter “l” too. Use this mnemonic trick or link the “L’s” in the two words to remember the connection between them.

Example Sentences with the Word “Yoke”

The following are sentences incorporating the term “yoke”:

  • Yoking the oxen together is something every farmer should know.  
  • The yoke cracked apart, causing the ox to break free.
  • The nation’s economy has been crumbling under the dictatorship’s yoke.
  • The loan gave wheels to our business, but the debt mountain is slowly turning into a yoke surrounding our necks.
  • The intro tries to yoke the various pieces together.
  • Both nations threw off the yoke quite recently.
  • Cold yoke was dribbling down his chin.
  • The vocation’s yoke was almost unbearable.
  • Some designs incorporated both the yoke and the piece bonnet.
  • During the period, the men were taught to tame yoke oxen and horses.
  • The country endured the queen’s mild yoke as the people trusted her completely.

Example Sentences with the Term “Yolk”

Below is a list of sentences using the term “yolk”:

  • Except for vitamin C, the yolk contains almost all known vitamins.
  • Tom likes runny yolks for breakfast, but Mary likes them hard.  
  • The yolk has all the cholesterol an egg contains.
  • I don’t know what to make of this cappuccino made of egg yolk.
  • The sauce shouldn’t boil to prevent the egg yolk from curdling.
  • Add the yolk to tie the mix together.
  • An egg’s yolk houses most of the essential nutrients.
  • The yolk determines, to an extent, the size of the egg.
  • Add the yolk mix after reheating the remaining cream.
  • Crack open the egg and remove only the yolk out without breaking it.
  • An egg comprises the shell, the white, and the yolk.
  • Whisk in the egg yolk and the yogurt.
  • Some people are allergic to the proteins found in the egg yolk and the egg white.

egg yolk yellow background wide


The relationship between “yoke” and “yolk” is complicated. They’re not homophones as their pronunciations are not the same. However, some pronounce “yolk” as “yoke”. According to them, as a result, the two terms are, after all, “homophones”.

Also, the meanings of “yolk” and “yoke” are unique, but specific dictionaries may list “yoke” as the alternate spelling of “yolk”. Consequently, the two could get misconstrued as synonyms of each other.

The goal of this article is to clear the air or categorically state that “yoke” and “yolk” do not sound the same, and also “yoke” is not the other spelling for “yolk”. And that’s irrespective of what some lexicographers may want you to believe.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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