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90s Slang You Should Know


[neyv] /neɪv/
an unprincipled, untrustworthy, or dishonest person.
Cards. jack1 (def 2).
  1. a male servant.
  2. a man of humble position.
Origin of knave
before 1000; Middle English; Old English cnafa; cognate with German Knabe boy; akin to Old Norse knapi page, boy
Can be confused
knave, naval, nave (see synonym study at the current entry)
1. blackguard, villain, scamp, scapegrace. Knave, rascal, rogue, scoundrel are disparaging terms applied to persons considered base, dishonest, or worthless. Knave, which formerly meant merely a boy or servant, in modern use emphasizes baseness of nature and intention: a dishonest and swindling knave. Rascal suggests shrewdness and trickery in dishonesty: a plausible rascal. A rogue is a worthless fellow who sometimes preys extensively upon the community by fraud: photographs of criminals in a rogues' gallery. A scoundrel is a blackguard and rogue of the worst sort: a thorough scoundrel. Rascal and rogue are often used affectionately or humorously (an entertaining rascal; a saucy rogue ), but knave and scoundrel are not.
hero. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for knaves
Historical Examples
  • With the exception of Clubs, all of the knaves wear moustaches, but no beards.

    Prophetical, Educational and Playing Cards Mrs. John King Van Rensselaer
  • I am glad to hear that the Russians are driving these knaves back.

  • My lords four knaves looked down the arcade of trees, and saw the something white as plainly as if it had been verily there.

    By order of the company Mary Johnston
  • Couldst thou identify these knaves, if once they were apprehended?

    Historic Boys Elbridge Streeter Brooks
  • Give the knaves dinners, plenty of Burgundy and Port, and what signifies an empty head?

    Horse-Shoe Robinson John Pendleton Kennedy
  • If you would be imposed on by knaves, be a Drunkard; for that will make their task easy.

    Select Temperance Tracts American Tract Society
  • This letter will show that you make war with honest men and trust rogues and knaves.

    Young Folks' History of Rome Charlotte Mary Yonge
  • But, till I have, I have seven cooks and five knaves to bear my part.'

    Privy Seal Ford Madox Ford
  • Nations are never conscious of all the riches they possess in the matter of knaves.

    Napoleon the Little Victor Hugo
  • The knaves led them from the stables, but fled without them.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
British Dictionary definitions for knaves


(archaic) a dishonest man; rogue
another word for jack1 (sense 6)
(obsolete) a male servant
Derived Forms
knavish, adjective
knavishly, adverb
knavishness, noun
Word Origin
Old English cnafa; related to Old High German knabo boy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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