Green’s Dictionary of Slang

knock-down n.

1. in senses of lit. or fig. violence or aggression.

(a) something astounding, remarkable, that ‘knocks one down’.

[UK]A. Cowley Cutter of Coleman-street (1721) 771: will.: Shall Mrs. Barebottle come in, Sir? joll.: That’s a She Knock-down too.
[UK]Dickens Pickwick Papers (1999) 497: I’ll try and bear up agin such a reg’lar knock down o’ talent.
[US]Knickerbocker (N.Y.) XXI 484: ‘Tom and Jerry’ ushered before a Park audience the scientific Mr. T. Belcher Kay, one of the great knock-downs of foreign celebrity [DA].
[US]W. Sketch & ‘Nelse’ The Down-Trodden 19/2: Mr. Tinkey suddenly mis-quoted a Latin phrase. This was a ‘knock-down argument’; a death-blow from which the gentleman could not recover, so [...] he took his cane and hat, and left.
‘Lewis Carroll’ Through the Looking-Glass 124: I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’.
[Aus]‘Erro’ Squattermania 244: ‘Well, isn’t the news absolutely stunning?’ said Sutton. ‘It is, my boy [...] a regular knock-down, in fact.’.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 8 Feb. 12/1: They Say [...] That It is also a great knockdown to Albert G., the thin lightweight jockey, having to cancel his engagement, and he has lost his mount in the Cup.

(b) (also knocker-down) strong ale or liquor.

[UK]G. Meriton In Praise of York-shire Ale 29: We’ve Ale also that’s call’d Knocker-down.
[UK]M. Sorbiere Journey to London in the Year 1698 p.35, cited in N&Q Ser. 6 XII (1885) 167: He answer’d me that he had a thousand such sort of liquors, as Humptie Dumtie, Three Threads, Four Threads, Old Pharaoh, Knockdown.
[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: Knock-down, very strong Ale or Beer.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. 1725].
[US]Ely’s Hawk & Buzzard (NY) Sept. 8 n.p.: A black bottle of what they call Cherry [? brandy]; but it is no more than the common Knock down.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]Belfast News-Letter 15 June 6: Some old names for [...] beer are curious [...] ‘hugmatee,’ ‘knock down’.

(c) (US) a fight; also in fig. use, an undeniable argument.

[UK]Sporting Mag. XXXIII. 6: This round produced the first blood, and first knock-down .
[US]W.A. Caruthers Kentuckian in N.Y. I 94: O! black eyes and bruises! what a rascally appetite I’ve got now for a knock down.
Satirist & Punch (Boston, MA) 1 Feb. 59/2: [He] had quite a knock down with an Irishman.
[UK]T.G. Vielé Following The Drum 33: Constantly were his pugnacious tendencies exhibited in [...] ‘little heat ups’ or ‘knock downs’.
[US]A.F. Hill Our Boys 85: It is highly improper for officers [...] to indulge in a vulgar knock-down.
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 269: Two of the party had got into angry dispute relative to their respective fire-engine companies, which resulted in one of the parties calling the other a liar, and a square knock-down was the consequence.

2. (Aus./N.Z./US) an introduction, esp. a formal introduction of a man to a woman in whom he is interested; thus give one a knock-down, to give one an introduction.

[US]M.L. Byrn Adventures of Fudge Fumble 61: I asked the young man if he would go down some night and give me a ‘knock down’ to the family.
[US]Lantern (N.O.) 20 Aug. 3: An’ got a knock-down to all the officers.
[US]Ade Artie (1963) 19: Take me over and gi’ me a knock-down to the queen in the corner.
[US]A.H. Lewis ‘The Humming Bird’ in Sandburrs 28: I’ll bring him over to this boozin’ ken of ours, an’ cap youse a knock-down to him.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 2 Nov. 36/2: So the sale is made; and when Jim goes down to the ‘kick‘ at Mint ‘Crick,’ and expects to get a ‘knock-down’ to the ‘noo teacher,’ he scents himself to the very boots, and goeth forth like a rose leaf on the breeze to make his conquest.
[US]Van Loan ‘The Pitch-Out’ in Lucky Seventh (2004) 288: If ever I’d ever had a knock-down to her [...] I’d have some right to horn in.
[Aus]C.H. Thorp Handful of Ausseys 179: Well, ’e’ gives me a knock-down to ’is tart.
[Aus]Healesville & Yarra Glen Guardian (Vic.) 4/4: Maria gives me the knock-down to a shyin’ little shielah.
[US]D. Hammett ‘Assistant Murderer’ in Nightmare Town (2001) 142: A certain party comes to me a couple of days ago with a knock-down from a party that knows me.
[US]J. Conroy World to Win 118: If you’re ever in St. Luke [...] I’ll give you a knock-down to all the local literati and so on.
[NZ]F. Sargeson ‘That Summer’ in Coll. Stories (1965) 156: He had his girl with him. I didn’t feel like butting in but he called me over and gave me a knock-down.
[US]Murtagh & Harris Cast the First Stone 212: I’ll give you a knockdown to one of my regular customers.
[Ire]P. Boyle At Night All Cats Are Grey 156: You should give me a knock-down to her.
[Aus]J. Byrell (con. 1959) Up the Cross 14: ‘How wouldja like a kockdown to good ole Bouncy?’.
[Aus]J. Byrell Lairs, Urgers & Coat-Tuggers xvi: [H]e was given a knockdown [...] to one Claude ‘Careful Claude’ Chenery .

3. (US) information.

[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 118: Knock Down. – An introduction. Information. As one would knock something within reach of another.
[Aus]D. O’Grady A Bottle of Sandwiches 27: Thanks for the shower an’ the knock-down.

4. (Aus.) in financial/commercial uses [? abbr. knock-down money].

(a) a profit, usu. illicit.

[US]H. McCoy Corruption City 47: You were so busy figuring out the size of the knock-down.

(b) a discount.

[US]T. Berger Reinhart in Love (1963) 146: He always gets a ten to fifteen [per cent] knockdown there.

In compounds

knock-down money (n.)

(US) tips or gratuities.

[US]N. Hawthorne Amer. Notebooks (1932) 39: The hostlers, at taverns, call the money given them [...] ‘knock-down money.’.
[US](con. 1930s) Courtwright & Des Jarlais Addicts Who Survived 168: You know what I mean by ‘knockdown money’? Tips men would give you – you wouldn’t turn them in.

In phrases

give a knockdown (to) (v.)

(US) to recognise.

[US]F. Hutcheson Barkeep Stories 27: ‘[W]e has give de knock-down to de copper as de son of one of de head guys ’mong dem downtown coppers’.
take a knock-down (v.)

(US black) to take note.

[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 1: Gator, take a knock down to those blow tops, who are upping some real crazy riffs and dropping them on a mellow kick and chappie the way they pull their lay hips our ship that they are from the land of razz ma tazz.