knock down

verb (used without object)

  1. to strike a sounding blow with the fist, knuckles, or anything hard, especially on a door, window, or the like, as in seeking admittance, calling attention, or giving a signal: to knock on the door before entering.
  2. to strike in collision; bump: He knocked into a table.
  3. to make a pounding noise: The engine of our car is knocking badly.
  4. Informal. to engage in trivial or carping criticism; find fault.
  5. Cards. to end a game, as in gin rummy, by laying down a hand in which those cards not included in sets total less than a specific amount.

verb (used with object)

  1. to give a sounding or forcible blow to; hit; strike; beat.
  2. to drive, force, or render by a blow or blows: to knock a man senseless.
  3. to make by striking a blow or blows: to knock a hole in the wall.
  4. to strike (a thing) against something else.
  5. Informal. to criticize, especially in a carping manner: He’s always knocking everything.
  6. British Slang. to astound; impress greatly.


  1. an act or instance of knocking.
  2. the sound of knocking, especially a rap, as at a door.
  3. a blow or thump.
  4. Informal. an adverse criticism.
  5. the noise resulting from faulty combustion or from incorrect functioning of some part of an internal-combustion engine.
  6. Cricket. an innings.
  7. British Slang.
    1. one of a combination of dealers who bid together, rather than against each other, at an auction, and later resell the purchases among themselves.
    2. an auction at which this is done.
    3. the sale of merchandise recently obtained by a dealer at an auction.

Verb Phrases

  1. knock around/about, Informal.
    1. to wander aimlessly or idly; loaf.
    2. to mistreat (someone), especially physically.
    3. to jar; shake up.
  2. knock back, Slang. to drink (a beverage), especially quickly and heartily: He knocked back two shots of vodka.
  3. knock down,
    1. to sell at auction by a blow of the hammer or to a bidder.
    2. to take apart or disassemble, as for facility in handling, storing, shipping, etc.
    3. receive, as a salary or a scholastic grade; earn: He knocks down 30 grand a year.
    4. lower the price of; reduce: to knock down end-of-season leftovers.
    5. embezzle or steal (money).
    6. to cause (a sailing vessel) to heel, as by a gust of wind, to such a degree that it cannot right itself.
  4. knock off,
    1. cease activity, especially work: to knock off at five every day.
    2. to stop doing something; quit: Knock it off or you’ll get into a mess.
    3. dispose of; finish.
    4. murder; kill.
    5. die.
    6. get rid of; reduce.
    7. disable or defeat.
    8. commit a robbery at; steal from: The gang knocked off a gas station.
    9. Nautical blow the head (of a sailing vessel) off the wind.
    10. to imitate, copy, or plagiarize: to knock off designer dresses in cheap materials.
  5. knock out,
    1. to defeat (an opponent) in a boxing match by striking such a blow that the opponent is unable to rise within the specified time.
    2. to render (a person) unconscious: Those sleeping pills knocked me out for ten hours.
    3. to make tired or exhausted: Christmas shopping always knocks me out.
    4. produce quickly, hurriedly, or with ease: He knocks out two poems a day.
    5. to damage or destroy: The explosion knocked out the power for several hours.
    6. knock(def 28).
  6. knock over,
    1. to strike (someone or something) from an erect to a prone position: to knock over a lamp.
    2. to distress; overcome: When the announcement came we were completely knocked over.
    3. rob, burglarize, or hijack: He knocked over five banks.
  7. knock together, to make or construct in a hurry or with little attention to detail: He knocked together a couple of tables.
  8. knock up,
    1. make pregnant.
    2. to exhaust; weary; tire.
    3. to damage; mar: The children knocked up the new table.
    4. to injure; wound: He was afraid to come home from school all knocked up again.
    5. wake up; rouse; call: He knocked us up before dawn.
  1. have it knocked, Slang. to be assured of success: With a government job, he thought he had it knocked.
  2. knock out of the box, Baseball. to cause a pitcher to be removed from the box because the pitcher has permitted too many hits to be made.Also knock out.
  3. knock the/one’s socks off, Informal. to have an overwhelming effect on: The song knocked the socks off the audience.

verb (tr, adverb)

  1. to strike to the ground with a blow, as in boxing
  2. (in auctions) to declare (an article) sold, as by striking a blow with a gavel
  3. to demolish
  4. to dismantle, for ease of transport
  5. informal to reduce (a price, etc)
  6. Australian slang to spend (a cheque)
  7. Australian slang to drink

adjective knockdown (prenominal)

  1. overwhelming; powerfula knockdown blow
  2. mainly British cheapI got the table at a knockdown price
  3. easily dismantledknockdown furniture

noun knockdown

  1. US and Australian slang an introductionwill you give me a knockdown to her?


  1. (tr) to give a blow or push to; strike
  2. (intr) to rap sharply with the knuckles, a hard object, etc, esp to capture attentionto knock at the door
  3. (tr) to make or force by strikingto knock a hole in the wall
  4. (intr usually foll by against) to collide (with)
  5. (tr) to bring into a certain condition by hitting or pushingto knock someone unconscious
  6. (tr) informal to criticize adversely; belittleto knock someone’s work
  7. Also: pink (intr) (of an internal-combustion engine) to emit a characteristic metallic noise as a result of faulty combustion
  8. (intr) (of a bearing, esp one in an engine) to emit a regular characteristic sound as a result of wear
  9. British slang to have sexual intercourse with (a person)
  10. knock a person into the middle of next week informal to hit a person with a very heavy blow
  11. knock one’s head against to have a violent or unpleasant encounter with (adverse facts or circumstances)
  12. knock on the head
    1. to daze or kill (a person) by striking on the head
    2. effectively to prevent the further development of (a plan)


    1. a blow, push, or raphe gave the table a knock
    2. the sound so caused
  1. the sound of knocking in an engine or bearing
  2. informal a misfortune, rebuff, or setback
  3. informal unfavourable criticism
  4. informal (in cricket) an innings or a spell of batting

Old English cnocian (West Saxon cnucian), “to pound, beat; knock (on a door),” likely of imitative origin. Meaning “deprecate, put down” is from 1892. Related: Knocked; knocking. Knock-kneed first attested 1774. Knock-down, drag-out is from 1827. Command knock it off “stop it” is first recorded 1880, perhaps from auctioneer’s term for “dispose of quickly:”

At the commencement of the sales, he gave every one that wanted to purchase a paper containing a description of the lands that were to be sold; and, as the sales were cried, he called over the numbers and described the land; and when it got up to one dollar and a quarter an acre, if no body bid, after it was cried two or three times, he would say, knock it off, knock it off. [U.S. Senate record, 1834]


mid-14c., from knock (v.). As an engine noise, from 1899.


Take apart for storage or shipping, as in We need to knock down this chest to ship it safely overseas. [Mid-1900s]


Declare sold at an auction, as by striking a blow with a gavel. For example, That was the last bid, and the first edition was knocked down for only three hundred. [Mid-1700s]


Reduce the price of, as in They knocked it down by another hundred dollars, or An overabundant harvest will knock down corn prices. [Colloquial; mid-1800].


Earn as wages, as in She knocks down a hundred grand a year. [Slang; 1920s]


Steal, embezzle, as in He was caught knocking down the box-office receipts. This usage may be obsolescent. [Slang; mid-1800s] Also see knock over, def. 2.

In addition to the idioms beginning with knock

  • knock about
  • knock back
  • knock cold
  • knock dead
  • knock down
  • knock down with a feather
  • knock for a loop
  • knock into a cocked hat
  • knock it off
  • knock off
  • knock oneself out
  • knock on wood
  • knock out
  • knock over
  • knock over with a feather
  • knock someone’s block off
  • knock someone’s socks off
  • knock the bottom out of
  • knock the living daylights out of
  • knock the socks off
  • knock together
  • knock up

also see:

  • beat (knock) into someone’s head
  • beat (knock) the living daylights out of
  • (knock) down to size
  • (knock) off someone’s feet
  • school of hard knocks
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