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- The antics or tricks of a knave; boyish mischief.
- 1599, William Shakespeare, “The Life of Henry the Fift”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene vii], page 89, column 1:
- […] Harry Monmouth, being in his right wittes and his good iudgements, turn'd away the fat Knight with the great belly doublet: he was full of ieſts, and gypes, and knaueries, and mockes; I haue forgot his name.
- 1820 January 1, Geoffrey Crayon [pseudonym; Washington Irving], “Christmas Eve”, in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., number V, New York, N.Y.: […] C. S. Van Winkle, […], OCLC 1090970992, page 389:
- The young Oxonian, on the contrary, had led out one of his maiden aunts, on whom the rogue played a thousand little knaveries with impunity; he was full of practical jokes, and his delight was to tease his aunts and cousins; yet, like all mad-cap youngsters, he was a universal favourite among the women.
- An unprincipled action; deceit.
- c. 1603–1604, William Shakespeare, The Tragœdy of Othello, the Moore of Venice. […] (First Quarto), London: […] N[icholas] O[kes] for Thomas Walkley, […], published 1622, OCLC 724111485, [Act I, scene iii], page 20:
- Caſsio’s a proper man, let me ſee now, / To get his place and to make vp my will, / A double knauery—how, how,—let me see, […]
- 1720, [Daniel Defoe], The Life, Adventures, and Pyracies, of the Famous Captain Singleton, London: […] J. Brotherton, […], J. Graves […], A. Dodd, […], and T. Warner, […], OCLC 19425974, pages 67–68:
- [A]s our little Traffick with the Natives was hitherto upon the Faith of their firſt Kindneſs, we found ſome Knavery among them at laſt; for having bought ſome Cattel of them for our Toys, […] one of our Men differing with his Chapman, truly they huff’d him in their Manner, and keeping the things he had offered them for the Cattel, made their Fellows drive away the Cattel before his Face, and laugh at him; […]
- 1748, [David Hume], “Essay X. Of Miracles.”, in Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding, London: […] A[ndrew] Millar, […], OCLC 642589706, part II, page 194:
- He conſider'd juſtly, that it was not requiſite, in order to reject a Fact of this Nature, to be able accurately to diſprove the Teſtimony, and to trace its Falſhood, thro' all the Circumſtances of Knavery and Credulity, which produc'd it.
- 1836, “Boz” [pseudonym; Charles Dickens], “The Parish”, in Sketches by “Boz,” Illustrative of Every-day Life, and Every-day People. […], volume I, 2nd edition, London: John Macrone, […], OCLC 912950347, chapter I (The Beadle—The Parish Engine—The Schoolmaster), page 1:
- How much is conveyed in those two short words—"The Parish!" And with how many tales of distress and misery, of broken fortune, and ruined hopes, too often of unrelieved wretchedness and successful knavery, are they associated!
- 1840 May 22, Thomas Carlyle, “Lecture VI. The Hero as King. Cromwell, Napoleon: Modern Revolutionism.”, in On Heroes, Hero-Worship and The Heroic in History, London: Chapman and Hall, […], published 1840, OCLC 874416277, page 184:
- I esteem the modern error, That all goes by self-interest and the checking and balancing of greedy knaveries, and that, in short, there is nothing divine whatever in the association of men, a still more despicable error, natural as it is to an unbelieving century, than that of a ‘divine right’ in people called Kings.
unprincipled action — See also translations at deceit