• synonyms


noun British.
  1. a person who buys animal carcasses or slaughters useless livestock for a knackery or rendering works.
  2. a person who buys and dismembers old houses, ships, etc., to salvage usable parts, selling the rest as scrap.
  3. Dialect. an old, sick, or useless farm animal, especially a horse.
  4. Obsolete. a harness maker; a saddler.
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Origin of knacker

1565–75; knack (< Scandinavian; compare Icelandic hnakkr nape of the neck, saddle) + -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for knacker

Historical Examples

  • First of all he went to the knacker, Sanin, who lived in a village near.

    The Forged Coupon and Other Stories

    Leo Tolstoy

  • She reaches the knacker's cellar, at the end of the corridor.

  • Better die now, while I am with thee, than fall into the knacker's hands.


    William Harrison Ainsworth

  • "Well—if I must, I must," said the knacker, with affected reluctance.

    The Mysteries of London, v. 1/4

    George W. M. Reynolds

  • "It is God's truth—and now that I've said it, I'll stick to it," said the knacker.

    The Mysteries of London, v. 1/4

    George W. M. Reynolds

British Dictionary definitions for knacker


  1. a person who buys up old horses for slaughter
  2. a person who buys up old buildings and breaks them up for scrap
  3. (usually plural) slang another word for testicle
  4. Irish slang a despicable person
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  1. (tr; usually passive) slang to exhaust; tire
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Word Origin

C16: probably from nacker saddler, probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse hnakkur saddle
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

Word Origin and History for knacker


usually in past tense, knackered, "to kill, castrate" (1855), but most often used in weakened sense of "to tire out" (1883); apparently from knacker (n.) "worn-out or useless horse," 1812, of unknown origin; possibly from a dialectal survival of a Scandinavian word represented by Old Norse hnakkur "saddle," hnakki "back of the neck," and thus possibly related to neck (n.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper