A-Z Database

A-Z Database

All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Knock spots off someone or something

To be far better than, to surpass or defeat easily, British informal dates from the late 19th century. The only explanation forthcoming for the spots...

Read More

Knock-knock, who’s there?

Knock-knock is of course the opening gambit and who’s there is the obligatory question, which is then usually answered by a pun based on someone’s nam...

Read More

Knock/beat the stuffing out of someone or something

To dishearten, demoralise someone to the point of capitulation and defeat, dates from the late 19th century, from the allusion of draining someone of...

Read More

Knocked up

Meaning pregnant is American slang from the early 19th century, possibly deriving from the earlier 16th century word knock meaning to copulate.


British and Australian slang for female breasts dates from the mid-20th century.

Knocking shop

Slang for a brothel, dates from the mid-19th century. See also knock.

Knockout/knocked out

Originally a boxing term from the late 18th century, applied to a contestant who fails to beat the count, but from the 1960s used metaphorically to de...

Read More


Why is the speed of a ship measured in knots? What is a knot? A knot is the time it takes to travel one nautical mile, a distance of 1.852 km or 1.507...

Read More

Know from a bar of soap

Usually expressed in the negative e.g. “I don't know him/her from a bar of soap” and is thought to be of Australian origin from the early 20th century...

Read More

Know from Adam

see Know from a bar of soap

Know how many beans make five

A person who knows how many beans make five is British colloquial speak for a person who has their wits about them or who knows their stuff, and dates...

Read More

Know like the back of one’s hand

One would imagine that we really know the back of our own hands very well, considering that our hands are in front of us all the time. Thus, the meani...

Read More

Know on which side one’s bread is buttered

Know where one’s advantage lays, an old proverb that first appears in John Heywood Proverbs (1546).

Know one's onions

Somewhat surprisingly, the origin of this expression, which means to know one’s stuff, is American from the 1920s. At the time, there was a whole host...

Read More

Know one’s beans

see Know how many beans make five

back to top