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 knuckling (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

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Other Words from knuckle


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

Examples of knuckle in a Sentence

Noun She rapped her knuckles on the table.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The move harks back to the 1980s, when bare-knuckle hostile takeovers were more common. Cara Lombardo, WSJ, "Xerox to Nominate as Many as 11 Directors to HP Board," 22 Jan. 2020 Aided by a snowstorm that socked in the Eastern Seaboard and left millions with few options, the new NASCAR viewers were treated to the spectacle of a race at Daytona International Speedway and the bare-knuckle intensity of old-style NASCAR. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Alabama 200: State’s sports history littered with amazing, memorable moments," 27 Nov. 2019 In his first run for the Illinois Senate, Barack Obama used this bare-knuckle approach to clear the ballot of opponents. Gregory Pratt,, "Relentless visits, repeated voicemails and yelling: Inside Madigan ward’s push to keep a college student from running for alderman," 4 Oct. 2019 Further Reading Artificial Intelligence and the coming of the self-designing machine XponentialWorks used ParaMatters' AI software to iterate new designs for components like the FUV's brake pedal, upper control arm, rear swing arm, and knuckle. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "This EV company is using AI and 3D printing to add lightness," 21 Jan. 2020 The suspect was later found at a Grafton Road residence and had fresh cuts on his hands and knuckles consistent with the damage to the door. Brian Lisik, cleveland, "Suspect leaves trail after several vehicle break-ins: Brunswick Hills Township Police Blotter," 4 Jan. 2020 Union Pacific is continuing its fight against reinstating a train engineer who defecated on a locomotive connection knuckle. USA TODAY, "Surfing Santas, endangered red wolves, who owns the letter ‘O’?: News from around our 50 states," 28 Dec. 2019 Five years ago, the sound of Frank Underwood's knuckles rapping twice against the presidential desk, his vicious declaration of triumph after reaching the Oval Office, made for a memorable end to season two of House of Cards. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "How Netflix Transformed the Peak TV Terrain in the 2010s," 19 Dec. 2019 The snowy weather is already causing grief and white knuckle driving on highways in Colorado. Adriana Diaz, CBS News, "Winter weather a headache for early Thanksgiving travelers," 22 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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, "Swampland Sublime: The Landscapes of Louisiana," 8 Feb. 2020 White-knuckling through intersections, cursing the Waze app for directing you to turn left. Dan Labbe, cleveland, "Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski always stood out during his days in Philadelphia, even when he wasn’t trying to stand out," 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, "Escape Winter: 5 Warm-Weather Yoga Retreats," 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,, "Alligator hunting: For 2 Florida friends, a last chance to kill an elusive beast," 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, "The Restaurant at Pearl Morissette Offers a Tasting Menu for the Climate-Conscious Era," 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, "Oregon State’s 31-28 loss to Hawaii is simple, says Isaiah Hodgins: The defense did its part and the offense didn’t," 8 Sep. 2019 But what about snow biking, snowmobiling, and knuckle hucking? Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "The 2019 Winter X Games Starts This Week—Here’s What You Need to Know," 23 Jan. 2019 Griezmann's shot from about 25 yards away knuckled away from Muslera at the last moment and the ball went off his hands and into the goal in the 61st minute. Pete Grathoff, kansascity, "Uruguay goalie's blunder gifts a goal to France at World Cup," 6 July 2018

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.

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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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Time Traveler for knuckle

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for knuckle

Last Updated

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Knuckle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for knuckle


How to pronounce knuckle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of knuckle

: any one of the thick, bony parts (called joints) in your fingers
: a piece of meat that includes a joint from the leg of an animal


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on knuckle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with knuckle

Spanish Central: Translation of knuckle

Nglish: Translation of knuckle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of knuckle for Arabic Speakers

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