a canvas, nylon, or leather bag for clothes, food, and other supplies, carried on the back by soldiers, hikers, etc.

Origin of knapsack

1595–1605; < Low German knappsack, equivalent to knapp a bite (of food) + sack sack1; compare dialectal English knap to snap up, eat greedily
Related formsknap·sacked, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for knapsack

satchel, pack, rucksack, carryall, haversack

Examples from the Web for knapsack

Contemporary Examples of knapsack

Historical Examples of knapsack

  • Wrayson looked at the knapsack, at the camera, and at the little man himself.

    The Avenger

    E. Phillips Oppenheim

  • Each of the Russians closed a switch on the knapsack which he wore.

    Poisoned Air

    Sterner St. Paul Meek

  • Help me to stock my knapsack, and I 'll find my road myself.'

  • Not that the staff and the knapsack are the passports to only such as these.

    Arthur O'Leary

    Charles James Lever

  • I strapped on my knapsack at once, and stepped into the little boat.

    Arthur O'Leary

    Charles James Lever

British Dictionary definitions for knapsack



a canvas or leather bag carried strapped on the back or shoulder

Word Origin for knapsack

C17: from Low German knappsack, probably from knappen to bite, snap + sack bag; related to Dutch knapzak; see sack 1
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 knapsack

c.1600, from Low German Knapsack (Dutch knapzak), probably from knappen "to eat" literally "to crack, snap" + Sack "bag" (see sack (n.1)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper