Green’s Dictionary of Slang

knockout drops n.

also knock-drops, knockout, knockout pills, k.o. drops, k.o.d., the drop

1. chloral hydrate mixed into a drink to render an innocent victim unconscious.

[US]Eve. World (NY) 12 July 3/5: Several gangs that made a business of drugging and robbing immigrants have been caught [...] The police were enabled to arraign the ‘man catchers’ captured with the ‘knockout’ drops in their possession.
[US]E. Townsend Chimmie Fadden Explains 11: If Mr. Burton wasn’t good t’ Miss Fannie I’d put a knock-out pill in his cocktail.
[US]J.S. Wood Yale Yarns 152: Our dandy team played a logy, tired sort of game, as if each man had been given knock-out drops.
[US]F. Norris Moran of the Lady Letty 41: Mee dear friend Jim put a knock-me-out drop into your Manhattan cocktail.
[US]E. Townsend Chimmie Fadden and Mr Paul 101: Put all de sugar and milk dat ’s coming to me in me foist cup [...] for dat ’s de only part of tea dat is n’t knock-out drops to me.
[US]C.B. Chrysler White Slavery 39: The Slaver slips her the K.O.D, knockout drops or drugs.
[US]I.L. Nascher Wretches of Povertyville 60: Knock-out drops is a solution of chloral hydrate, the pungent taste of which is immediately noticed by a person in his sober senses [...] Knock-out drops are supplied in half dram vials, each vial containing 20 grains of chloral, a vial full being used at a time.
[US]F.P. Dunne Mr Dooley Says 105: Th’ sons iv Mars [...] can get annything fr’m sulphuric acid to knock-out dhrops.
[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 64: Amongst gamblers and badgers a ‘peter’ is a sleeping potion, a ‘knockout,’ such as hydrate of chloral.
A. Baer No Thumb Prints 6 Nov. [synd. col.] A bottle of K.O. drops haven’t much effect on a whole ocean.
[US]P. & T. Casey Gay-cat 270: He had been given ‘knockout drops’ and been robbed of his paper of identification.
[UK]E. Wallace Squeaker (1950) 165: Sutton had opened the champagne, had filled and emptied one glass. In the other he had carefully dropped thirty drops of a water-like fluid from the little brown phial [...] In the course of his chequered career he had twice used ‘the drop’.
[UK]K. Mackenzie Living Rough 110: I took him up to an hotel room and slipped some K.O. drops in his moonshine.
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 234: Go on — get out — or I’ll get ’em to put knock-drops in your grog.
[UK]S. Lister Mistral Hotel (1951) 106: What did you slip in his drink? Knock-out drops?
[US](con. 1920s) ‘Harry Grey’ Hoods (1953) 223: I gave them some knockout drops in their whiskey.
[US]J. Mills Panic in Needle Park (1971) 123: With chlorohydrate. No. I didn’t use it. I mean I didn’t take it. I used it for knockout drops. It comes in crystals and you just put a few drops in somebody’s drink and they get very sleepy.
[Ire]J. Healy Grass Arena (1990) 106: More came running, held me, got my trousers down, shoved a needle full of knock-out drops in me.
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 209: Before he was supposed to leave they put knock-out drops in his drink and took off with everything he had.

2. a soothing linctus, usu. based on laudanum or opium, used to soothe fractious young children.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 656: late C.19–20.

3. in fig. use, something powerful, destructive.

[US]N.Y. Times 30 May in Fleming Unforgettable Season (1981) 81: He [...] unloaded the choicest collection of knockout drops dealt since Amos Rusie was doing a specialty.

4. (US) drugged or adulterated liquor.

[US]A. Hardin ‘Volstead English’ in AS VII:2 87: Terms used for intoxicating liquor: Knock-out drops.