Definition of knave in English:

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Pronunciation: /neɪv/


1 archaic A dishonest or unscrupulous man.
Example sentences
  • Instead, according to the same Daily Record, he is a knave and a liar.
  • Due to my poor performance as a husband, father, and provider, I can claim the role of knave, or general ne'er-do-well.
  • Gentleman, you see, do not play cricket with knaves.
2(In cards) a jack.



Pronunciation: /ˈneɪvəri/
noun (plural knaveries)
Example sentences
  • No doubt the chancers behind this scam would later graduate to the kind of knavery witnessed at Kingston police court in the same month.
  • Iago's only bond with his wife Emilia is not intimate, or even affectionate, and it becomes the means that undoes him when he believes he must kill her to prevent her from revealing his knavery.
  • Those convinced of his knavery, however, are unlikely to accept this judgment as definitive.


Old English cnafa 'boy, servant', of West Germanic origin; related to German Knabe 'boy'.

  • jack from Late Middle English:

    In the Middle Ages Jack, a pet form of John, was used to refer to any ordinary man, much as Tom, Dick, and Harry is today. By the 16th century it also meant a young man, and from this we get an alternative name for the knave (from the Old English for ‘boy’) in cards. In the 18th century a jack was a labourer, which gives us the second part of words like lumberjack (mid 19th century) and steeplejack (late 19th century). A jack was also an unskilled worker as contrasted with the master of a trade who had completed an apprenticeship, from which we get the saying jack of all trades and master of none. On the other hand, the apprentice could assert his equality with the words Jack is as good as his master. See also jockey

    A jack can also be a thing of smaller than normal size. Examples include the jack in bowls—a smaller bowl placed as a mark for the players to aim at—and jack as in Union Jack (late 17th century), which is strictly speaking a small version of the national flag flown on board ship. Jack-o-lantern as a name for a pumpkin lantern made at Halloween looks back to an earlier use of the phrase. In the 17th century it was a name for a will-o'-the-wisp (early 17th century), a light seen hovering at night over marshy ground, from another common first name—exchanging the idea of Jack with a lantern for Will with a ‘wisp’, or handful of lighted hay. I'm all right, Jack is an early 20th-century catchphrase used to express selfish complacency, which became the title of a film starring Peter Sellers in 1959. The Jack Russell terrier is named after a 19th-century English clergyman, known as ‘the Sporting Parson’, who was famed in hunting circles for breeding these terriers. Today a jackpot (late 19th century) is a large cash prize in a game or lottery. The term was originally used in a form of poker, where the pool or pot accumulated until a player could open the bidding with two jacks or better.

Words that rhyme with knave

behave, brave, Cave, clave, concave, crave, Dave, deprave, engrave, enslave, fave, forgave, gave, grave, lave, Maeve, misbehave, misgave, nave, outbrave, pave, rave, save, shave, shortwave, slave, stave, they've, waive, wave

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: knave

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