From Middle High German knabe, from Old High German knabo, chnabo, from Proto-Germanic *knabô (“boy, youth”), from Proto-Indo-European *gnebʰ- (“to press, tighten”). Cognate with English knave, Dutch knaap (“boy”), Danish knabe (“page”), Old Norse knapi (“valet”). See also the related Knappe.
- Knabe used to be the most common term for “boy” until about 1930. As the word was restricted to written style and had no basis in any regional dialects, it has since been replaced with more native Junge (throughout the language area) or Bube (alternatively in southern Germany and Austria).
- Knabe in Duden online