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See also: knock about and knock-about



knock +‎ about


knockabout (not comparable)

  1. Boisterous
    • 2009, January 19, “Alastair Macaulay”, in In a City Ballet Quartet, Two Choreographic Voices Manage to Stand Out[1]:
      I like the way Ana Sophia Scheller — replacing the injured Ashley Bouder — doesn’t exaggerate the ballet’s second lead woman, but Ms. Bouder’s blend of knockabout comedy and physical brilliance is missed.
  2. Suitable for rough use.
    I have a knockabout cello for non-concert gigs.


knockabout (plural knockabouts)

  1. (sailing) A small sailboat lacking a bowsprit, of a type found primarily in the Massachusetts area
    We sailed our knockabout around Cape Cod.
  2. (entertainment) A slapstick comedy or comedian.
  3. (circus) A tumbler.
  4. Clothing suitable for rough use.
  5. A worker habitually engaged in casual employment.
    • 1889, Rolf Boldrewood, Robbery under arms: a story of life and adventure in the bush and ...:, volume 1, page 122:
      We'd had a couple of knockabouts to help with the cooking and stockyard work. They were paid by the job. They were to stay at the camp for a week, to burn the gunyahs, knock down the yard, and blind the track as much as they could.
    • 1896, Mr. Hall, Parliamentary Debates New Zealand. Parliament. House of Representatives, page 585:
      It will prevent these shops from keeping these girls and using them as messengers or "knockabouts" for twelve months, and then discharging them and getting another batch in their place, which is sometimes done
    • 2001, Catherine S. Manegold, In Glory's Shadow: The Citadel, Shannon Faulkner, and a Changing America:
      From what she knew, they were humble people on both sides, farmers and handymen and knockabouts who followed the crops and their best chances state to state. Some worked in the quarries. Some worked in the mills.
  6. A person living in rough, violent conditions.
    • 1983, Michael MacDonald, Mystical Bedlam: Madness, Anxiety and Healing in Seventeenth Century England, page 91:
      They denounced the peasant's passions as animal lusts and complained that vagabonds and knockabouts were "generally given to horrible uncleanness. They have not particular w1ves, neither do they range themselves into families, but consort together as beasts.
    • 2008, Hunter James, Smile Pretty and Say Jesus: The Last Great Days of PTL:
      The guests were mostly reformed drunks and knockabouts who wanted to talk about their troubled trek through life
    • 2009, David M. Kennedy; Lizabeth Cohen, Thomas A. Bailey, The American Pageant, Volume I: A History of the American People, volume 1, page 70:
      The Virginia assembly in 1670 disfranchised most of the landless knockabouts, accusing them of “having little interest in the country” and causing “tumults at the election to the disturbance of his majesty's peace.”