knuck·​le | \ ˈnə-kəl How to pronounce knuckle (audio) \

Definition of knuckle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the rounded prominence formed by the ends of the two adjacent bones at a joint used especially of those at the joints of the fingers
b : the joint of a knuckle
2 : a cut of meat consisting of the tarsal or carpal joint with the adjoining flesh
3 : something resembling a knuckle: such as
a(1) : one of the joining parts of a hinge through which a pin or rivet passes
b : the meeting of two surfaces at a sharp angle (as in a roof)
c : a pivotal point
4 knuckles plural : a set of metal finger rings or guards attached to a transverse piece and worn over the front of the doubled fist for use as a weapon

called also brass knuckles


knuckled; knuckling\ ˈnə-​k(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce knuckle (audio) \

Definition of knuckle (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to place the knuckles on the ground in shooting a marble

transitive verb

: to press or rub with the knuckles

Other Words from knuckle


knuckled \ ˈnə-​kəld How to pronounce knuckle (audio) \ adjective

Examples of knuckle in a Sentence

Noun She rapped her knuckles on the table.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But the activity that cements the group's bond is a full-day, white-knuckle whitewater rafting trip on the Upper Klamath River. Rhonda Abrams, USA TODAY, 27 July 2022 Josh Hader had another white-knuckle ninth, allowing a two-out triple and single to bring Kris Bryant to the plate. Todd Rosiak, Journal Sentinel, 24 July 2022 What starts out as a heist soon becomes a globe-trotting, white-knuckle race to reach the prize before the ruthless Santiago Moncada can get his hands on it. Travis Bean, Forbes, 15 July 2022 This went along without any hitches, starting with the white-knuckle deployment of the sun shield that helps cool the telescope, followed by the alignment of the mirrors and the turning on of sensors. al, 10 July 2022 That’s about 2 percentage points higher than the central bank’s unemployment estimate, and a warning that the Fed’s hoped-for soft landing might be much more of a white-knuckle flight. Larry Edelman,, 19 June 2022 Charter school supporters have not yet launched their familiar mega-funded, hard-knuckle independent campaign of past races. Howard Blumestaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 31 May 2022 Draymond runs his knuckle-dragging open mouth ALL GAME LONG, but mild-mannered Kyle Anderson disputes one call and gets ejected? Jessica Flores, San Francisco Chronicle, 8 May 2022 This white-knuckle period in space followed nearly two decades of effort to design, build, and test the telescope on Earth prior to its launch on Christmas Day, 2021. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 29 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Before purchasing the pumpkin, rap on it with you knuckle in several spots to ensure there aren’t any soft spots, which indicate rot. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, 11 Aug. 2021 Patients aren’t strapped to a hospital bed, white-knuckling it through withdrawal; instead, they are gradually weaned off the drugs outside the hospital over the course of months. Lindsay Beyerstein, The New Republic, 10 Mar. 2020 Farther back, there are bald cypress trees, root systems knuckling their way out of the mud, and rowboats passing through the bayou. Zachary Fine, The New York Review of Books, 8 Feb. 2020 White-knuckling through intersections, cursing the Waze app for directing you to turn left. Dan Labbe, cleveland, 29 Jan. 2020 But there’s no need to white-knuckle the transition to your better self: Aspire to shimmering inner perfection at a yoga retreat in a warm-weather, seaside haven, where like-minded souls are padding down the same path. Margot Dougherty, WSJ, 2 Jan. 2020 But every hunt turns into the same battle: a hook in its back, a white knuckled grip on the rod, a snapped line. Karina Elwood,, 8 Nov. 2019 And so the hour-long drive from East Toronto out to Jordan Station became a white-knuckled sprint in slow motion, dodging winery tour buses and minivans headed to a pirate-themed amusement park on Lake Ontario’s shore. Aliza Abarbanel, Bon Appétit, 7 Nov. 2019 Oregon State had a chance to counter just over a minute later, but Jordan Choukair’s 52-yard field goal attempt knuckled to the left. oregonlive, 8 Sep. 2019 See More

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

First Known Use of knuckle


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1740, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for knuckle


Middle English knokel; akin to Middle High German knöchel knuckle

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

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Last Updated

1 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Knuckle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for knuckle


knuck·​le | \ ˈnə-kəl How to pronounce knuckle (audio) \

Kids Definition of knuckle

: the rounded lump formed by the ends of two bones (as of a finger) where they come together in a joint


knuck·​le | \ ˈnək-əl How to pronounce knuckle (audio) \

Medical Definition of knuckle

1a : the rounded prominence formed by the ends of the two adjacent bones at a joint used especially of those at the joints of the fingers
b : the joint of a knuckle
2 : a sharply flexed loop of intestines incarcerated in a hernia

More from Merriam-Webster on knuckle

Nglish: Translation of knuckle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of knuckle for Arabic Speakers


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