Twerking: a guide for etymologists

HTWB ass 1I can hear it now … the chorus of intellectuals in the portals of universities in English-speaking countries trilling their joy at the entry of a relatively new word into our everyday parlance. Twerking! Welcome!

For the very few of you who haven’t yet caught up with the meaning of the word, here is Wikipedia’s considered definition:

Twerking (/ˈtwɜrkɪŋ/) is a type of dancing in which the dancer, usually a woman, shakes her hips in an up-and-down bouncing motion, causing the dancer’s buttocks to shake, “wobble” and “jiggle”.[1] According to the Oxford Dictionary Online, to twerk is “to dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance“.[2]

The word twerking is of uncertain origin. Possibilities include a contraction of “footwork“, or a portmanteau of twist and jerk.[1]

This is a syndrome popularized a few years ago by the motor car manufacturers Renault, who used it to attract attention to their Mégane model. Not having driven one of these sassy cars I can’t be sure why the Twerking concept was considered so appropriate, but I’m told by some that the rear suspension of this model was such that you would certainly feel its ass Twerking if you drove it around a curve too quickly. In fairness to Renault, though, let’s have a look at the ad that made the car so popular…

More recently Twerking is performed by such musical talents as Miley Cyrus and has become the de rigeur  thing to do in sophisticated society almost everywhere. Here, now, are the derivatives of the original word and how we should introduce it into our everyday vocabulary (not in alphabetical order)…

Twerk – the base noun, meaning the rapid movement of buttocks (see above)

Twerk (to) – verb, meaning to wiggle and wobble your buttocks rapidly

Twerking – also a noun: the action of causing your buttocks to move around alarmingly

Twerker – someone who Twerks. To qualify, the following are required: a) large and preferably flabby buttocks; b) agile hips and pelvis so permitting rapid movement; c) suitably skimpy clothing to demonstrate buttock action clearly and d) a clear getaway path ahead of them if they wish to avoid inappropriate slaps

Twerkee – a person to whom a Twerker has Twerked, usually at very close range, and who is not necessarily too happy about it

Twerkette – young woman who is attempting to Twerk but has insufficient muscular power in the buttocks to attain full power

HTWB ass 2TwerkJerk – young man who similarly is attempting to Twerk but failing for the same reason as Twerkette, see above

Twerkability – a Twerking candidate’s suitability – or not – for Twerking

Twerkology – the science of Twerking for which a new Masters university degree course currently is being prepared (in California, natch)

Twerkey – large bird popularly raised and slaughtered for use at celebration dinners prepared for Twerk gatherings

TwerkLurk – a Twerker who Twerks at people in parks and dark alleys while holding the coat tails of his dirty raincoat up, thus enabling the full Twerking movements to be seen easily

TwerkPerk – what Twerkers obtain as a result of Twerking in the right places to the right audiences

TwerkQuirk – a Twerker who adds a few more performance elements to his/her show over and above the simple Twerking act. Let’s not go there now

TwerkTurk – a Twerking practitioner performing an eastern Mediterranean variant of western Twerking

TwerkTwerp – someone who embarrasses friends and family by making very unsuccessful attempts at Twerking to music in pubs on karaoke nights

TwerkWork – a range of body building/weight training exercises designed to enhance Twerking muscles – now becoming more readily available in better quality gymnasia everywhere

And for more information on how to Twerk, you might well find the following video helpful:

What experiences have you had with Twerking? And what derivatives of the word have I forgotten to include here?

All together now – let’s get Twerking on it!

While you’re here, don’t forget to stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give to friends and family (don’t forget the Holiday Season is coming soon)…

photo credit: jimjarmo via photopin cc
photo credit: John Spencer – EdRethink via photopin cc




  1. Think I’m undergoing cold twerky.

  2. This was hilarious! I am not a fan of the twerk at all! I haven’t personally witnessed this spectacle but I have viewed the videos online…….twerkhards is a word that comes to mind due to the in your face display of well the ‘twerk’

  3. I am laughing SO hard right now!! I had no idea what it meant (showing my age…or maybe my isolation from ‘popular’ culture)…so perhaps I’m ‘twerkless – one who is ignorant of twerking’ ?!!

  4. lol … Ahh thank you for a good morning laugh that I am sure will continue throughout the year 🙂

  5. Suzan, twerkling here as well!! This gave me a laugh. Creative way to share your thoughts on this topic. Certainly not a dance we do here or teach the kiddies, but no denying its mainstream popularity. Yet another topic to discuss with the 16 yr old. A mother’s work is never done!

  6. I guess you learn something new every day. I’m one of the behind-the-times folks (that comic must have been created with me in mind) who figured twerking was related to Twitter and really didn’t feel the need to be in the know on the derivation or definition. Now I have a complete vocabulary outline on the term to show how hip I am. Good thing we have social media to keep abreast of these important developments :-).

  7. I think I’m a twerkophobe. This frightened me. And the thought of having to watch Miley do it really sends me running.

    I can’t see your videos – may be a glitch on my end but thought you might want to know. I’m afraid of them anyway 🙂

  8. Ha, I did a German action song last week with some primary school children which had them shaking their bum ….. I didn’t know I was sooo up-to-date 😉

  9. Oh Suze, you’re just too funny! Had to follow you before I lose sight of you after the Blog challenge. Look forward to seeing more of your stuff.