- an unprincipled, untrustworthy, or dishonest person.
- Cards. jack1(def 2).
- a male servant.
- a man of humble position.
Origin of knave
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for knave
He threw the helmet with a clatter on to the table as if it had been the knave's canting head.Viviette
William J. Locke
He has gone; and, knave as he is, I can hardly help exclaiming, "Luck go with him!"Yankee Gypsies
John Greenleaf Whittier
Here is a knave of a friar calleth me a mad priest, and yet I smite him not.The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
Is it true that you are persecuted by this knave's addresses?'Life And Adventures Of Martin Chuzzlewit
But I always have a little distrust for the foolishness of a person who has once been a knave.Roden's Corner
Henry Seton Merriman
- archaic a dishonest man; rogue
- another word for jack 1 (def. 6)
- obsolete a male servant
Word Origin and History for knave
Old English cnafa "boy, male servant," common Germanic (cf. Old High German knabo "boy, youth, servant," German knabe "boy, lad," also probably related to Old English cnapa "boy, youth, servant," Old Norse knapi "servant boy," Dutch knaap "a youth, servant," Middle High German knappe "a young squire," German Knappe "squire, shield-bearer"). The original meaning might have been "stick, piece of wood" [Klein]. Sense of "rogue, rascal" first recorded c.1200. In playing cards, "the jack," 1560s.