: a tricky deceitful fellow
: a boy servant
: a male servant
: a man of humble birth or position

Examples of knave in a Sentence

he plays the role of the duplicitous knave who tries to foil the play's hero
Recent Examples on the Web Alice begs for the knave’s freedom, putting herself in danger. Liesbeth Powers, Dallas News, 27 May 2023 With 377 remaining options, my second word continued this theme with the mildly ironic ‘edits’ (no, rewriting Dahl’s books is not simply ‘editing’ you cowardly knaves). Erik Kain, Forbes, 19 Feb. 2023 However, having dispensed with the knave who was for a while also their ace, the Tories now must find a leader who can revive an electoral coalition that only Boris could ever have built. The Editors, National Review, 8 July 2022 But as Karl suggests, Trump was a knave, not a fool. Washington Post, 26 Nov. 2021 The supporting cast includes knaves and villans such as outlaw John Wesley Hardin, Mexican General Santa Anna and swindler Billy Sol Estes. John MacCormack,, 27 May 2020 Identifying Figueras as a fellow-knave, Cassidy gives him a delicate sin to commit. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 28 Feb. 2020 Anybody who makes firm predictions now is a fool or a knave. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, 28 Feb. 2020 The Founding Fathers were not unaware of the possibility that a demagogue or a knave might win the presidency. Ezra Klein, Vox, 6 Sep. 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'knave.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Old English cnafa; akin to Old High German knabo boy

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of knave was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near knave

Cite this Entry

“Knave.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


knavishly adverb

from earlier knave "a boy servant, a person of humble birth," from Old English cnafa "boy"

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