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

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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 That turns Jasmila Zbanic’s film from entertainment to tragic drama — a white-knuckle portrayal of one woman’s resourcefulness in the face of bureaucratic inertia and certain death. Globe Staff,, "In ‘Quo Vadis, Aida?,’ a final horror in a century filled with horror," 17 Mar. 2021 The fun continued with the climb up Dalzell Gorge, which teams usually experience as a white-knuckle descent. Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, "With the Iditarod racing to a finish, some veterans are seeing the trail with a new perspective," 15 Mar. 2021 The last year has been a white-knuckle ride for the world. Chris Pope, Forbes, "Never Mind The Tools, Here’s The Transformation," 11 Mar. 2021 The white-knuckle ride is on pause for at least this March as No. 8 Alabama jockeys for seeding instead of survival in the NCAA basketball tournament picture. Michael Casagrande |, al, "NCAA tournament projections look positive for Alabama," 3 Mar. 2021 For parents, teen years deliver the white-knuckle ride of waning influence and life-or-death importance. Washington Post, "Carolyn Hax: She keeps pushing hallucinogenic therapy. Can I tell her to buzz off?," 21 Feb. 2021 For the Big 12, most of the real white-knuckle suspense has pretty much dissipated barring some unexpected nose dive late in the season. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, "With Baylor leading the pack, here’s a look at where Big 12 teams stand ahead of March Madness bracket preview," 12 Feb. 2021 Doctors and nurses are taking white-knuckle trips to towns and villages across the state to ensure residents are protected from the coronavirus. Cathy Free, Anchorage Daily News, "How is Alaska leading the nation in vaccinating residents? With boats, ferries, planes and snowmobiles.," 6 Feb. 2021 This white-knuckle approach would consist of several years of misery, morbidity, and mortality, not to mention continued economic hardship. Zach Nayer, STAT, "On the road to herd immunity, vaccination speeds the journey," 17 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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, "What Happened to Jordan Peterson?," 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, "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

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

22 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Knuckle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for knuckle



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

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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