knock about

See also: knockabout and knock-about



From knock (verb) + about.



knock about (third-person singular simple present knocks about, present participle knocking about, simple past and past participle knocked about) (informal)

  1. (transitive) To hit (someone or something) all over repeatedly; hence, to behave violently towards or mistreat (someone or something).
    Synonyms: knock around, knock round
    It was known that he would knock his wife about when he had been drinking.
    • 1817 December, [Jane Austen], chapter III, in Persuasion; published in Northanger Abbey: And Persuasion. [], volume III, London: John Murray, [], 1818, →OCLC, page 44:
      I never saw quite so wretched an example of what a sea-faring life can do; but to a degree, I know it is the same with them all: they are all knocked about, and exposed to every climate, and every weather, till they are not fit to be seen.
    • 1922 (date written; published 1926), T[homas] E[dward] Lawrence, “Book VI: The Raid upon the Bridges. Chapter LXXVI.”, in Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran & Company, published 1937, →OCLC, page 424:
      [Y]oung Mustafa refused to cook rice; Farraj and Daud knocked him about until he cried; []
    • 2023 February 22, Stephen Roberts, “Reading … between the lines … to Wales”, in Rail, number 977, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire: Bauer Media, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 56:
      The place also got knocked about during the English Civil War, with "the spire [of its church] having been destroyed by the artillery of the Parliamentary forces".
  2. (intransitive)
    1. To move or roam around aimlessly.
      Synonyms: knock around, knock round
      1. (by extension) To live an unconventional life.
    2. To be present at or inhabit a certain place.
      Synonym: hang around
      • 1881, P. Chr. Asbjörnsen [i.e., Peter Christen Asbjørnsen], “A Day with the Capercailzies”, in H. L. Brækstad, transl., Round the Yule Log. Norwegian Folk and Fairy Tales, London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, →OCLC, page 77:
        He [a hare] used to knock about here in Holleia, and they said he was nearly black. A good many were after him and had a shot at him, but they never had any luck, until this rascally Andreas came here.
      • 1902 January–March, Joseph Conrad, “Typhoon”, in George R. Halkett, editor, The Pall Mall Magazine, volume XXVI, London: Printed by Hazell, Watson & Viney, →OCLC, chapter I, page 92, column 2:
        [I]n the chart-room of the steamer Nan-Shan, he stood confronted by the fall of a barometer he had no reason to distrust. [] "That's a fall, and no mistake," he thought. "There must be some uncommonly dirty weather knocking about."
      1. (by extension) To engage in a relaxing activity in a place; to hang around in.
        Synonyms: potter about, potter around
        I like to knock about the garden on Saturdays.
      2. (by extension) Often followed by with: to spend time companionably; to hang around.
        Synonyms: hang, hang about, knock around, knock round
        I used to knock about with John when we were younger.
        John and I used to knock about when we were younger.
      3. (by extension, usually in present participial form) To be mislaid in a place.
        Synonyms: knock around, knock round, lie around
        I’ve got some scissors knocking about in the kitchen.


Further readingEdit