knack·​ered ˈna-kərd How to pronounce knackered (audio)

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Don't Get Tired Defining Knackered

An apt synonym for knackered might be the phrase “dead tired” for more than one reason. Knackered comes from the past participle of knacker, a slang term meaning “to kill,” as well as “to tire, exhaust, or wear out.” The origins of the verb knacker are uncertain, but the word is perhaps related to an older noun knacker. That word originally referred to a harness-maker or saddlemaker, and later to a buyer of animals no longer able to do farmwork (or their carcasses), as well as to a buyer of old structures. Knackered is used on both sides of the Atlantic but is more common among British speakers.

Example Sentences

She was too knackered to join them for dinner. I'm absolutely knackered, so no pub-crawling for me tonight.
Recent Examples on the Web The adrenaline from having our first child (and keeping him alive) got me through the first several days without feeling completely knackered, but my lack of nocturnal restoration eventually took its toll. Patrick Wilson, Outside Online, 15 June 2020 And, if their knees get too knackered, there’s a backup Santa. Washington Post, 22 Nov. 2021 Mounting a knackered horse and dragging a fat old farmer, Sancho, in his wake, the don declares undying love for an ordinary girl out of her depth. Jeanette Winterson, New York Times, 3 Sep. 2019

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

Word History


English slang knacker to kill, tire, perhaps from knacker, noun

First Known Use

1971, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of knackered was in 1971


Dictionary Entries Near knackered

Cite this Entry

“Knackered.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

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