know·​ing | \ˈnō-iŋ \

Definition of knowing 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having or reflecting knowledge, information, or intelligence

2a : shrewdly and keenly alert : astute a knowing observer

b : indicating possession of exclusive inside knowledge or information a knowing smile

3 : cognitive

4 : deliberate knowing interference in the affairs of another



Definition of knowing (Entry 2 of 2)

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Other Words from knowing


knowingly adverb
knowingness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for knowing

Synonyms: Adjective

astute, canny, clear-eyed, clear-sighted, hard-boiled, hardheaded, heady, savvy, sharp, sharp-witted, shrewd, smart

Antonyms: Adjective


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Examples of knowing in a Sentence


She looked at us in a knowing way. exchanged a knowing look with her business partner during the sales presentation

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Instead, Doe must show Michigan State harmed her through obvious and knowing indifference: school officials knew about what happened and then looked the other way. Michael Mccann,, "Title IX Lawsuit Over Players' Alleged Rape Adds to Michigan State's Growing Legal Troubles," 13 Apr. 2018 Here, a simple introduction -- a knowing glance among friends -- takes place. Susan Scutti, CNN, "Ovarian cancer vaccine shows promising results in human study," 11 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Far easier to denounce the enemy and enjoy the knowing nods of your friends. Barton Swaim, WSJ, "Politics Books: The Fire This Time," 27 Sep. 2018 Almost everyone worth knowing has been canceled by someone. Jonah Engel Bromwich, New York Times, "Everyone Is Canceled," 28 June 2018 Until this period, theologians used counterfactuals only as a way to prove God’s goodness, and Divine Providence—the deity as all-powerful, all-knowing, and all goodness. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "What if Napoleon Hadn’t Lost Europe and Other Questions of Alternate History," 14 June 2018 The film's impulse to profess a knowing, snarky superiority can become painfully awkward. Jen Yamato,, "Snark conquers all in 'Deadpool 2,' a superhero sequel that's more of the same," 15 May 2018 Ciminierti was a single unwed mother in the 1930s and her baby was taken away from her without her knowing. Natalie Dreier, ajc, "100-year-old mother meets daughter taken away for adoption," 4 July 2018 Given the strong print, Mulligan was wise to take a restrained approach to accessories, adding no major sparkle save for a knowing, confident smile. Maria Ward, Vogue, "Carey Mulligan Makes the Case for Modest Style at the Tony Awards," 11 June 2018 With that said, Logan returning as an all-knowing and all-powerful host and going up against the Man in Black would be a scene for the ages. Josh Wigler, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Westworld': How the Shocking Robot Reveal Could Impact the Future," 14 May 2018 The same National League Central team that began a seven-game homestand Monday staring at fourth place but knowing, deep down, its issues go beyond a quick glance at standings. David Haugh,, "As Cubs' funk lingers into May, it's not too early to wonder if it's getting late out there," 7 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'knowing.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of knowing


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for knowing

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Time Traveler for knowing

The first known use of knowing was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for knowing



English Language Learners Definition of knowing

: showing that you have special knowledge


know·​ing | \ˈnō-iŋ\

Kids Definition of knowing

1 : having or showing special knowledge, information, or intelligence

2 : shrewdly and keenly alert The baby looked around with knowing eyes.

Other Words from knowing

knowingly adverb



Legal Definition of knowing 

1 : having or reflecting knowledge a knowing and intelligent waiver of counsel — see also intelligent

2 : deliberate sense 2 knowing possession knowing endangerment — compare mens rea

Other Words from knowing

knowingly adverb

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