Green’s Dictionary of Slang

knock around v.

(orig. US)

1. to wander, to travel aimlessly [20C+ use is SE].

[UK]G.F. Ruxton Scenes in the Far West 117: He had been knocking around all day in every grog-shop and bar-room in town [...] [F&H].
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 194: I knocked around for about half an hour [...] and resolved to try my luck again.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Another of Mitchell’s Plans for the Future’ in Roderick (1972) 136: I knocked around a good deal down there among the farms.
[US]Ade Forty Modern Fables 191: The Man who had been knocking around for Thirty-eight Years.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 28 May 4/7: There ain’t no room at the club. There ain’t no room at the restaurant / Because I have no pay-day, / SoI’m knocking around the streets, / I’m knocking around alway; / I’m knockin’ around, knockin’ around, / And I’m dead weary o’ knockin’ around.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘The Venturers’ in Strictly Business (1915) 293: I’m going to knock around the world.
[Aus]Deloraine & Westbury Advertiser (Hobart, Tas.) 21 Jan. 3/2: Half-castes, Malays and the dirty white trash you always find knocking around such townships.
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 45: I don’t knock around down this way much.
[US]Z. Grey Rainbow Trail (1961) 6: Wish more travelers came knocking around Red Lake.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 72: Well, glad to see you looking fit, he said. Meet you knocking around.
[US]Z.N. Hurston Mules and Men (1995) 26: He knocked around lak dat for ten years and then he seen his brother. De big preacher says, ‘Brother, you don’t look like you gittin’ holt of much.’.
[US](con. 1944) N. Mailer Naked and Dead 14: Ugly incidents out of the years he had knocked around.
[US]T. Williams Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Act II: I knocked around in my time [...] I bummed, I bummed this country till I was —.
[Aus]D. Niland Big Smoke 44: She had knocked around and been knocked around.
[US]T. Wolfe Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1969) 37: He had [...] knocked around Hollywood for a while with the idea of becoming a movie star.
[US](con. 1960s) D. Goines Black Gangster (1991) 87: Look like that kid has knocked around with the law before.
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 19: All I can say is that I’ve knocked around the traps.

2. to associate with.

[US]J. Harrison ‘Negro English’ in Anglia VII 263: To knock ’roun’ de gals = to visit the girls.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 27 Oct. 14/1: Yes; it’s just prejudice. I’ve met plenty chaps who reckoned I was good enough to knock round and have a drink with until they found out I was the hangman – then they used to dodge me.
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Working Bullocks 93: It was thought a pity a good lump of a young fellow like Aggie Graeme should be knocking round with Barney Brennan.
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 120: Plenty of dough, plenty of wallop, a pretty jane to knock around with.
[Aus]R. Park Poor Man’s Orange 205: He’s been knocking around with her for months.
[Aus]D. Niland Shiralee 138: You’d be a good mate to knock round with.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Gone Fishin’ 25: Queer-lookin’ mob she knocks around with, but.
[UK]T. Parker Frying-Pan 4: The blokes I was knocking around with, if we wanted something, we went and pinched it.
[Ire]J.B. Keane Bodhrán Makers 152: Well, that’s the lady he’s knocking around with lately.
[UK]G. Burn Happy Like Murderers 282: He had been knocking around with a thirteen-year-old who had a brother who was a bouncer.
[UK]K. Waterhouse Soho 136: That Simon you’re knocking around with? What’s he been doing?