- 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 knaves
The knaves led them from the stables, but fled without them.The White Company
Arthur Conan Doyle
Why should you leave all the gains to the gluttons, knaves, and impostors?Little Dorrit
Assisted by a couple of knaves, Ganymede went about attending to the rebel at once.Bardelys the Magnificent
And so, what think you these two knaves—this master knave and his dupe—have determined?
And so I pushed on to Blois with my knaves close at my heels.
- archaic a dishonest man; rogue
- another word for jack 1 (def. 6)
- obsolete a male servant
Word Origin and History for knaves
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.