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See also: Knack and knäck



Use as "special skill" from 1580.[1] Possibly from 14th century Middle English krak (a sharp blow), knakke, knakken, from Middle Low German, by onomatopoeia. Latter cognate to German knacken (to crack). See also crack.


  • IPA(key): /næk/
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knack (plural knacks)

  1. A readiness in performance; aptness at doing something. [from 1580]
    Synonyms: skill, facility, dexterity
    • 1945 January and February, A Former Pupil, “Some memories of Crewe Works—III”, in Railway Magazine, page 14:
      These men had some uncanny knack of knowing when the steel was right, and like many such things, it just could not be put into a textbook on the subject.
    • 2005, Plato, Sophist. Translation by Lesley Brown. 254a.
      The sophist runs for cover to the darkness of what is not and attaches himself to it by some knack of his;
    • 2011 October 2, Jonathan Jurejko, “Bolton 1–5 Chelsea”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      And the Premier League's all-time top-goalscoring midfielder proved he has not lost the knack of being in the right place at the right time with a trio of clinical finishes.
  2. A petty contrivance; a toy.
    Synonyms: plaything, knickknack, toy
  3. Something performed, or to be done, requiring aptness and dexterity. [from mid 14th c.]
    Synonyms: trick, device

Derived terms[edit]



knack (third-person singular simple present knacks, present participle knacking, simple past and past participle knacked)

  1. (obsolete, UK, dialect) To crack; to make a sharp, abrupt noise; to chink.
    • 1674, Joseph Hall, Bishop Hall's sayings concerning travellers to prevent popish and debauch'd principles, William Miller:
      If they hear the Beads knack upon each other, that's enough.
  2. To speak affectedly.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “knack”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.