[ 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


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.

Can be confused

knave naval nave (see synonym study at the current entry) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for knave

British Dictionary definitions for knave


/ (neɪv) /


archaic a dishonest man; rogue
another word for jack 1 (def. 6)
obsolete a male servant

Derived Forms

knavish, adjectiveknavishly, adverbknavishness, noun

Word Origin for knave

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