Green’s Dictionary of Slang

knockabout adj.

also knockaround
[SE knock about]

1. (orig. theatre) noisy, violent, rambunctious.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 Nov. 7/2: Two knockabout niggers [...] make a partial atonement for the sins of others of their kind; while Fields and Hanson produce strange music and fool around on a system of their own.
[Aus]Sportsman Apr. 1 : The Armstrongs maintain their position as two of the best knockabout artistes [F&H].
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 4 May 492: Kings were far from sitting or lying softly in those knockabout times.
[UK]Wodehouse Psmith Journalist (1993) 183: Her knockabout act in the restaurant would have satisfied the most jaded critic.
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 7 Apr. 11/4: ‘Hunter and Bob,’ who recelty toured the Tiroh circuit [...] doing ‘Knockabout’ comedy.
[US]Wood & Goddard Dict. Amer. Sl. 28: knockabout. [...] A slapstick comedian. A roustabout, man of all work.
[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 12 Apr. 5/3: Breen and Wyler give a lively and funny knockabout act.
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 22 Nov. 6s/1: [headline] Obscure Knockabout Comedians Experience Sudden and Inexplicable Rises to Fame.
[Aus]Canberra Times (ACT) 25 Mar. 4/3: A clown who broke his neck during a ‘knockabout’ acrobatic act [etc.].
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Yarns of Billy Borker 82: This fella’s name was Dooley Franks. A real knockabout man.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Apr. 44: For the Pig the courts have to have a special interpreter, usually a detective familiar with the ‘knock-around’ idiom.
[UK]Guardian 21 July 17: A knockabout seaside comic ... getting names wrong and making a fool of himself.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 9 Feb. 1: When the two men first became rival editors, their digs at each other were mostly ‘knockabout’ stuff.

2. freelance; vagrant.

[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 4 Aug. 4/1: The skipper’s diary tells us her crew were [...] ‘two knockabout hands and a knockabout parson’ who preached to whites and blacks wherever they stopped.
[Aus]T. Spicer Good Girl Stripped Bare 138: Every family has an ‘Uncle Jack’ – a ‘colourful character’. A ‘knockabout bloke’. He often phones [...] after losing his licence or fighting with bikies.