English edit

Etymology edit

From Middle English knave, knafe, from Old English cnafa (child, boy, youth; servant), from Proto-West Germanic *knabō. Cognate to Dutch knaap and German Knabe.

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

knave (plural knaves)

  1. (archaic) A boy; especially, a boy servant.
  2. (archaic) Any male servant; a menial.
  3. A tricky, deceitful fellow; a dishonest person.
    Synonyms: rogue, villain
    • 1726 October 28, [Jonathan Swift], “A Further Account of Glubbdubdrib. []”, in Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. [] [Gulliver’s Travels], volume II, London: [] Benj[amin] Motte, [], →OCLC, part III (A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Glubbdubdribb, Luggnagg, and Japan), page 108:
      I could plainly diſcover from whence one Family derives a long Chin; why a ſecond hath abounded with Knaves for two Generations, and Fools for two more; why a third happened to be crack-brained, and a fourth to be Sharpers.
    • 1848 November – 1850 December, William Makepeace Thackeray, chapter 44, in The History of Pendennis. [], volumes (please specify |volume=I or II), London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1849–1850, →OCLC:
      He was a man whom scarcely any amount of fortune could have benefited permanently, and who was made to be ruined, to cheat small tradesmen, to be the victim of astuter sharpers: to be niggardly and reckless, and as destitute of honesty as the people who cheated him, and a dupe, chiefly because he was too mean to be a successful knave.
    • 1908, W[illiam] B[lair] M[orton] Ferguson, chapter II, in Zollenstein, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, →OCLC:
      I had never defrauded a man of a farthing, nor called him knave behind his back. But now the last rag that covered my nakedness had been torn from me. I was branded a blackleg, card-sharper, and murderer.
    • 1951, Geoffrey Chaucer, translated by Nevill Coghill, The Canterbury Tales: Translated into Modern English (Penguin Classics), Penguin Books, published 1977, page 204:
      God's bones! Whenever I go to beat those knaves / my tapsters, out she [my wife] comes with clubs and staves, / "Go on!" she screams — and it's a caterwaul — / "You kill those dogs! Break back and bones and all!"
  4. (card games) A playing card marked with the figure of a servant or soldier; a jack.

Synonyms edit

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

Anagrams edit

Middle English edit

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

From Old English cnafa, from Proto-Germanic *knabô. Compare knape.

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

knave (plural knaves or knaven)

  1. son, male child (offspring)
  2. boy, lad, male child or baby
  3. guy, bloke, man
  4. servant, hireling, menial
  5. peasant, lowly individual
  6. infantryman, soldier
  7. knave, caitiff, despicable individual

Related terms edit

Descendants edit

  • English: knave
  • Scots: knave, knafe, knaif

References edit