Green’s Dictionary of Slang

knock up v.

1. to waken; thus knocker up, n., one who wakes people up [knocking on the front or bedroom door].

[UK]Dekker Wonderfull Yeare 39: In euery house griefe striking vp [...] Some frantically running to knock vp Sextons, others fear-fully sweating with Coffins.
[UK]T. Jordan Walks of Islington and Hogsdon IV ii: I will knock up this rogue Hugh at the Feathers; Hugh, Hugh, you rogue rise [...] you sleepy rogue rise.
[UK]Etherege Love In A Tub I ii: A Midwife was never knock’d up With more fury.
[UK]Congreve Way of the World I ii: A man had as good be a professed midwife, as a professed whoremaster, at this rate! to be knocked up and raised at all hours.
[Scot]J. Arbuthnot Hist. of John Bull 101: There are indeed two or three troublesome nurses, that [...] will never let me have a quiet night’s rest with knocking me up.
[UK]Smollett Peregrine Pickle (1964) 259: It was about eleven o’clock at night when they arrived at Senlis [...] where they were obliged to knock up the people of the inn.
[UK]Smollett Humphrey Clinker (1925) I 15: I begged Morley to knock up the mayor.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Aug. IV 289/1: ‘Fine work, Miss Hot-upon’t,’ cries I, / ‘I’ll knock up your papa.’.
[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) I 212: I made the best of my way homewards, where I rendered night hideous by my howling, and knocked all the family up.
[UK]C.M. Westmacott Eng. Spy I 305: Knocked up Transit, and made him send for his colours.
[UK]Disraeli Henrietta Temple 312: I was ashamed to knock them up here, and I thought [...] you would excuse this early call.
[UK]Dickens Martin Chuzzlewit (1995) 325: Mrs. Gamp went home [...] and was knocked up again that very night for a birth of twins.
[US]Manchester Spy (NH) 21 Sept. n.p.: [They] employed him to ‘knock them up’ at two pence a week.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 5 June 3/3: I’ve been disturbed and knocked up out of bed as late as one, two, and three o’clock in the morning.
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown at Oxford (1880) 126: I’ll be bound now, the old fox came straight home to earth. Let’s go and knock him up.
[NZ]Marlborough Express (NZ) 11 Aug. 2/6: The visitors [...] carried a motion that an adjournment should be made to the nearest hotel to knock up the publican and get a drop of whiskey.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 23 May 9/2: Then he [...] started off at that late hour to knock up the American Consul, and get a free passage back to New York.
[UK]J.K. Jerome Three Men in a Boat 238: We could not go round, knocking up cottagers and householders in the middle of the night.
[UK]P.H. Emerson Signor Lippo 95: An old bloke who was knocker up got laid up, and they took him into the lump, where he pegged out. So I took on knocker up.
[UK]E.W. Hornung Amateur Cracksman (1992) 10: You would knock him up at this hour of the night?
[Aus]‘Miles Franklin’ My Brilliant Career 219: I’m goin’ to knock them up at Bimbalong.
[UK]H.G. Wells Kipps (1952) 81: You can’t knock ’em up now [...] You’d better try and sneak in in in the morning with the cat.
[UK]Western Times 26 May 15/6: The colliery township of Walkden [...] has a lady ‘knocker-up’ (Mrs Turner) who rises at three o’clock each morning.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 154: People knocking them up at all hours. For God’sake, doctor.
[UK]G.D.H. & M. Cole End of an Ancient Mariner 287: Mother’s gone back to bed, and I won’t have her knocked up twice in one night.
[UK]Yorks. Eve. Post 27 Oct. 13/4: Walter Worsnop (73) knocker-up [...] was going on his rounds at 5 am when he was knocked down by a motor-car and fatally injured.
[US]P. Kendall Dict. Service Sl. n.p.: to knock up . . . awaken.
[UK]Western Dly Press 10 Dec. 4/7: A railway ‘knocker-up,’ [...] had an uncanny experience when carrying out his duties [etc.].
[US]National Observer 3 Feb. n.p.: A male host may quite casually tell a female American house guest that he will ‘knock you up at 7:30 tomorrow morning.’ The term, of course, conveys nothing more than a rapping at the door until one is awakened.
[UK]P. Barker Blow Your House Down 118: She’d be there in the morning, she’d probably knock me up.
[Scot]I. Welsh Filth 162: I go to knock up Bladesey but he’s out.
[Ire]G. Coughlan Everyday Eng. and Sl. 🌐 Knock someone up (v): call around to someone’s house on business.

2. to injure, to impair, to wear out, to die, to defeat, thus knock-up n., an impediment, a strain.

[UK] in J. Malcolm Anecdotes of Manners and Customs (1808) 88: The two horses still kept their courage, till they came to between Longford and Colnbrook, where he plainly perceived them begin to droop or knock-up.
[Ire]Charles Macklin Love à la Mode II i: So within a hundred yards of the distance post, poor Dick knocked up as stiff as a turnpike.
[UK]Smollett Humphrey Clinker (1925) II 118: In passing the sands, without a guide, his horse had knocked up; and he himself must have perished, if he had not been providentially relieved by a return post-chaise.
[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ ‘Pindariana’ Works (1796) IV 365: Thus our club is knock’d up, because we’re outdone By the mirth of you mortals below.
[Ire]‘A Real Paddy’ Real Life in Ireland 77: He’s going to knock up the excisemen, and give every one leave to still their own whiskey without any license.
I. Pocock Omnibus I i: Do you want him to knock up another horse, and stuff another poll parrot with mealy potatoes?
[Aus][A. Harris] (con. 1820s) Settlers & Convicts 318: The good-hearted fellow had knocked his horse up the night before, full forty miles away, and had come on foot.
[UK]Thackeray Vanity Fair I 133: I, for my part, have known a five-pound-note to interpose and knock up half a century’s attachment between two brethren.
[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville Kate Coventry (1865) 15: I always go out [...] accompanied by the coachman [...] and I soon knock him up completely.
[UK]E. Eden Semi-Attached Couple (1979) 200: I would advise you to keep him out of political life; it is a complete knock-up to all comfort.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor III 166/2: I can’t work much more than four hours a-day on the pipes, for the blowing knocks me up and leaves me very weak.
[UK]Besant & Rice Golden Butterfly III 42: If you play polo hard enough, you may knock up a pony.
[UK]R. Barnett Police Sergeant C 21 249: She ain’t a strong woman; and hard work would soon knock her up.
[Aus]‘Miles Franklin’ My Brilliant Career 228: Before we had gone half our journey the horses knocked up.
[UK]‘Bartimeus’ ‘That which Remained’ Naval Occasions 89: P. M. O., I wish you’d have a look at that shrimp; he’s knocking himself up in this heat. He swears he’s all right, but he looks fit for nothing but hospital.
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Working Bullocks 90: Horses is all right for a spurt, but they knock-up in no time.
[Aus]Northern Standard (Darwin) 24 Apr. 3/1: Stott no more talk alonga Fanny ridem horse when she knock up. I savvy Mona and Violet knock up.
[UK]W. Watson Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (2000) 233: Now, Guinevere, you mustn’t work too hard [...] I can’t have you knocking yourself up.
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 284: They travelled slowly so that they would not ‘knock up’ the horses.
[US]M. Rumaker Exit 3 and Other Stories 77: ‘A man’s gotta watch out he don’t catch something.’ ‘No, that’s one think can knock up a man.’.
[US]H. Gould Fort Apache, The Bronx 262: Everybody’s always lookin’ to knock us up here.

3. (orig. US, also knock) to impregnate.

[UK]Marston Malcontent III i: I [...] have beat my shoemaker, knocked my semstress, cuckold my pothecary, and undone my tailor.
Caleb Earle diary 12 Apr. in McPhee Pine Barrens (1982) 32: William Mick’s widow arrived here in pursuit of J. Mick, who she says has knocked her up.
[US]D. Crockett Exploits and Adventures 97: Negro women are knocked down by the auctioneer, and knocked up by the purchaser.
[UK] ‘The Female Auctioneer’ Rakish Rhymer (1917) 138: I long for Pleasure’s cup, / And I’ll knock down myself to you / If you will knock me up.
[US]‘J.M. Hall’ Anecdota Americana I 13: You know that rich Mr. Leventhal? Well, he knocked me up, and I’m going to have a baby soon.
[US]T. Wolfe Web and the Rock 124: I got to watch her all the time now to keep some son-of-a-bitch from knockin’ her up.
[US](con. 1944) N. Mailer Naked and Dead 65: Tired? restless? Knock up a dame? Join The Army.
[UK]Nunnery versus Fuckery 20: ‘I’m half way to knocking you up good and proper’.
[US]H. Simmons Corner Boy 23: You’re going to get into trouble yet. Knock up some gal or something.
[US]H. Ellison ‘May We Also Speak’ in Gentleman Junkie (1961) 31: I can’t marry anyone right now. Not Princess Grace if I’d knocked her.
[US]L. Bruce How to Talk Dirty 187: There is no anonymous giver, except perhaps the guy who knocks up your daughter.
[US]E. Torres After Hours 51: I had knocked up her sister.
[US]G.V. Higgins Patriot Game (1985) 203: Knocks her up, quits school, goes to work.
[US]T. Jones Pugilist at Rest 146: She was still pining over a guy who knocked her up her junior year and then moved off to Spokane, leaving her and her parents to cope with the abortion.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Grave Doubt’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 83: Curly knocked up her daughter. She had her baby.
[US]R. Price Lush Life 412: A cop [...] who had just knocked up another female cop .
[US]J. Díaz This Is How You Lose Her 101: Some crazy cubano knocked her up with her second son.
[Aus]me-stepmums-too-fuckin-hot-mate at 🌐 Knock me up...Empty ya nads in me!
[UK]M. Herron Joe Country [ebook] ‘Knock yourself up.’ [...] ‘He’s suggesting you screw yourself’.
[US]D. Winslow ‘Sunset’ in Broken 194: ‘He knocked up a shot-caller’s niece, and they’re looking to punish him’.

4. attrib., pertaining to impregnation.

[US]N. Mailer Why Are We in Vietnam? (1970) 16: I even heard of a debutante knock-up case where the boy who had to accept the onus of parenthood [etc.].

5. to put together spontaneously, to arrange at short notice.

[US]A.N. Royall Letters from Alabama 19 Feb. 181: We’ll knock up a fat chicken or two, and my wife is first rate at a cup of coffee.
[Ire]‘A Real Paddy’ Real Life in Ireland 194: Captain Blake knocked up as fine a jug of whiskey punch as ever three hearty fellows knocked down.
[UK]Pierce Egan’s Life in London 31 Oct. 317/2: It was a hasty match for 10l. knocked up on Tuesday at a sporting-house on the road from Lalam’s.
[UK] ‘The Cly-Pecker’ Swell!!! or, Slap-Up Chaunter 38: If he’s green, and well-breech’d, I will knock up a fire.
[US]Manchester Spy (NH) 21 Sept. n.p.: It referred perhaps to the ‘getting up’ of some portion of a lady’s dress, or knocking up some article of attire [...] in a hurry.
[UK]Dickens Bleak House (1991) 284: Knocking up apologies for shelves.
[UK]Wild Boys of London I 13/1: Savage Mike had contrived to knock up a sort of friendly feeling between himself and the mechanic.
[UK]J.K. Jerome Three Men in a Boat 234: They knocked up a little place for him at the bottom of the garden.
[UK]G.M. Fenn Sappers and Miners 130: ‘Come to knock up an accident of some kind!’ said the man, with the grin on his face expanding.
[Aus]J. Furphy Such is Life 8: I was thinkin’ we might manage to knock up some sort o’ swap.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Grandfather’s Courtship’ in Roderick (1972) 872: Run in an’ see if harriet can’t knock you up a snack.
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Haxby’s Circus 144: An old miner knocked up a cool-safe for her.
[UK]J. Cary Horse’s Mouth (1948) 105: I knocked up a little sketch of Sara on a piece of plank.
[UK]H.E. Bates A Breath of French Air (1985) 205: It wasn’t half as good as she knocked up herself of a Sunday morning, she decided, but wasn’t bad really.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Cop This Lot 84: She’s a beaut buildin’, but. Like ter get a contract ter knock one of ’em up at ’ome.
[UK]Sun. Times Mag. 16 Sept. 31: When my husband and I are alone we prefer simple foods, so I knock up an omlette.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘Big Brother’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] Anything was better than the salmonella and chips that Grandad used to knock up!
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Real Life 26 Sept. 3: Knock up a pasta and pesto sauce.
[UK]Observer Screen 6 Feb. 16: Watching Delia knock up a hearty bowl of soup.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Mystery Bay Blues 25: I’ll knock up something to eat.

6. to earn a living, usu. with a noun, e.g. knock up a crust.

[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor III 135/2: We did middling, but we could always manage to knock up such a thing as 20s. each a-week.
[UK]A.J. Vogan Black Police 258: Here he is, working hard to ‘knock up’ another cheque.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Their Mate’s Honour’ in Roderick (1972) 754: He was away knocking up a cheque to buy a cottage.
[UK]F. Anthony ‘Wood-Splitting with Gus’ Me And Gus (1977) 20: He said we could hop in that winter while the cows were dry, and knock up anything up to a fiver a day each.
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 364: He knocks up an average of eight quid a week.
[UK]C. Harris Three-Ha’Pence to the Angel 150: Before the war they was knocking up their eight or ten quid a week.
[Aus]D. Niland Shiralee 46: He could knock up a decent cheque.

7. to amass.

[UK]Sporting Life 10 Dec. n.p.: With only 29 to win, White at his next attempt knocked up the necessary item [F&H].
[UK]F. Anthony ‘Wood-Splitting with Gus’ Me And Gus (1977) 22: Those two old chaps over the fence had knocked up over two cord that day.
[NZ]N. Marsh Died in the Wool (1963) 121: Lots of shearers wait until they’ve knocked up a good fat cheque and then [...] blue it all at the pub.
[UK]B.S. Johnson All Bull 110: Working at lightning speed, we finished most of the paper together and knocked up an amazing 75%.

8. (Aus.) to give up, to stop.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 18 Dec. 1/1: Even the rubbish man is knocked up by the horror of the humming herring.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett White Shoes 12: Do me a favour [...] knock up on the jokes about white shoes [...] it goes over like a boil on your arse.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Leaving Bondi (2013) [ebook] ‘I won’t tell you again [...] Knock up on the nagging’.

In compounds

knock-up money (n.)

(US Und.) the profit from a crime.

[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 35: All loans must be repaid out of the first knockup money.
[US]C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 323: Knockup money, Profits from a criminal racket.

In phrases

knock up a cheque (v.)

(Aus.) to earn money for one’s labour.

[UK] A.J. Vogan Black Police 258: Here he is, working hard to ‘knock up’ another cheque.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 12 Apr. 11/4: Making for the sugar country where a cheque can be knocked up quickly.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 11 Mar. 20/4: His beloved gin had, whilst he had been knocking up a cheque to tide them over the honeymoon, allowed a rival to cut him out.
[Aus]A.W. Upfield Mr Jelly’s Business 32: I knocked up a good cheque there breaking horses.
G. Berrie Morale 102: They had knocked up a cheque on a seven-months job, and they were going to knock it down before they signed on for another [AND].