A very small and unremarkable town that is typically regarded as dull or boring. The term comes from the practice of "jerking water": supplying steam locomotives with water from buckets, once a common practice in smaller towns. I can't wait to graduate high school and get out of this boring, jerkwater town! They're sending me to some jerkwater town in Wyoming for the assignment.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
A small community with modest conveniences. Tracks along main lines in the early days of American railroading had permanent towers that supplied water for steam locomotives. Not so along less important routes, so train crews and any other willing hands had to form bucket brigades to fill the boiler from streams and ponds. Filling the buckets was known as “jerking water,” and any small collection of houses, stores, and community buildings where that was done were “jerkwater towns.” The epithet stuck, especially when people from larger towns and cities wanted a snide way of referring to small towns.
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price