Green’s Dictionary of Slang

know a thing or two v.

also know a thing or three/six, know a trick or two, learn a few, learn a thing or two, see..., show someone..., teach..., tell..., be up/down to a thing or two

to be aware, to be knowledgeable.

[[UK]Shakespeare Henry IV Pt 1 II i: I know a trick worth two of that, i’ faith].
[UK]C. Dibdin ‘Patrick O’Row’ in Collection of Songs II 53: Let the Spaniards come on when they please, / Devil burn me we’d teach them a thing or two.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Nov. I 99/1: Our Publisher, ‘who’ (as O’Keefe says), ‘knows a thing or two,’ thought to differ.
C. Dibdin Jew Pedlar 1: I knows an odd Trick or two as vell as de best of you.
[US]R. Waln Hermit in America on Visit to Phila. 2nd series 30: No, flats in Co.—all up to a thing or two.
[Scot]Sir W. Scott St Ronan’s Well (1833) 373: I am a raw Scottishman, Captain Jekyll, it is true; but yet I know a thing or two.
[US]D. Crockett Col. Crockett’s Tour to North and Down East 122: I think old George Wolf knows a thing or two.
[UK]Disraeli Venetia III 178: I think I can show them a trick or two still.
[UK]Crim.-Con. Gaz. 18 May 155/1: ‘I know a thing or two [...] and those Lunnuners must get up very early in the morning to do me’.
[US]R. Carlton New Purchase I 216: Our folks, who had, indeed, seen ‘a thing or two’ in cabin cookery.
[US]W.T. Thompson Chronicles of Pineville 21: The doctor was on the spot, but he had been to Augusta and knew a thing or two about circuses.
[UK]Era 28 Mar. 10/1: Billy was up to a thing or two.
Woodville Courier (MS) 1 Feb. 1/2: De ole Virginy nigger, / He know a ting or two.
[UK]C. Reade It Is Never Too Late to Mend 1 306: ‘You know a thing or two,’ whined the doleful Fry.
[US]J.H. Green Reformed Gambler 126: ‘Patch-coat’ was such an one as would naturally make a man suspicion him for ‘knowing a thing or two’.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor (1968) II 368/1: I was accompanied by the master of the house, to whom I had been recommended by one of the fraternity as an intelligent man, and one who knew ‘a thing or two’.
[UK]W.L. Rede ‘I’m a Young Man Most Highly Respectable’ 🎵 I want a valet that’s down to a thing or two.
[UK]J. Hatton Cruel London I 128: Yes, I’ve seen a thing or two.
[UK]Worcs Chron. 6 Nov. 3/1: Why should I acquire of you, sir, / Things I do not care about, / When I’d ‘learn a thing or two, sir,’ / When I’d ‘know my way about?’.
[UK]W.S. Gilbert ‘Gentle Alice Brown’ Fifty ‘Bab’ Ballads 141: I’ve studied human nature, and I know a thing or two.
[US]W.T. Call Josh Hayseed in N.Y. 63: I’ll tell you chaps a thing or two.
[UK]E.J. Milliken ’Arry Ballads 13: He did know a thing or two.
[US]A. Adams Log Of A Cowboy 360: The old gent knew a thing or two about horses.
[Aus]Warwick Examiner & Times (St Lucia, Qld) 16 May 8/2: Their father declaring that he would show that ‘dod-gasted’ teacher a thing or two, slapped the girl’s face.
[US]Arizona Sentinel 6 May 2/4: The President has said [...] he has ‘shown them a thing or two’.
[US]J. London Road 96: But as the prison days went by [...] I ‘learned a few’.
[UK]Gem 16 Sept. 6: George Washington knew a thing or two, you know.
[UK]E. Pugh Cockney At Home 198: Men are the only animals that I claim to know a thing or six about.
[UK]T. Burke Limehouse Nights 59: It was legendary in Limehouse that old Kang Foo Ah knew a thing or three.
[UK]J.B. Priestley Good Companions 24: Ted [...] admitted that he knocked about a bit and knew a thing or two.
[US]J.T. Farrell World I Never Made 179: He’d just like to tell that thickhead a thing or two.
[UK]E. Garnett Family from One End Street 76: That cove knew a thing or two!
[UK]J. Worby Other Half 51: You can sure teach me a thing or two.
[Ire]‘Myles na gCopaleen’ Faustus Kelly in ‘Flann O’Brien’ Stories & Plays (1973) 154: I happen to know a thing or two.
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 121: He’d get learnt a thing or two.
[US]‘F. Bonnamy’ A Rope of Sand (1947) 185: I could still teach him a thing or two.
[US]J. Steinbeck Wayward Bus 175: She’d show him a thing or two.
[Aus]T.A.G. Hungerford Sowers of the Wind 5: I’ll think of you slaving your guts out while I’m teaching some little slit-eye a thing or two.
[UK](con. c.1928) D. Holman-Hunt My Grandmothers and I (1987) 164: The old Guvnor knew a thing or two and brought off a double.
[UK]G.W. Target Teachers (1962) 188: I could tell you a thing or three.
[US]T.I. Rubin In the Life 80: Boy, I could tell you a thing or two about some of these guys!
[US]D. Pendleton Boston Blitz (1974) 58: Trantham knew a thing or two about scared punks.
[UK](con. 1940s) O. Manning Danger Tree 74: I see you know a thing or two.
[US]M. McAlary Crack War (1991) 14: He could read a book and he knew a thing or two about the law.
[UK]Indep. 8 Jan. 5: Ronaldo is a young man but he knows a thing or two about beautiful women.
[UK]M. Amis Experience 344: Bernard knows a thing or two.