know-noth·​ing ˈnō-ˌnə-thiŋ How to pronounce know-nothing (audio)
capitalized K&N : a member of a 19th century secret American political organization hostile to the political influence of recent immigrants and Roman Catholics
know-nothing adjective

Examples of know-nothing in a Sentence

often disparaged her coworkers as a bunch of know-nothings
Recent Examples on the Web Their rowdy energy is so willfully disreputable, they must be made by a bunch of know-nothing lunkheads. Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, 29 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'know-nothing.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1812, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of know-nothing was in 1812

Dictionary Entries Near know-nothing

Cite this Entry

“Know-nothing.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a person who is ignorant : ignoramus
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