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.
[UK]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.
[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 put it down, looked about the house in a broken-hearted way, as if all the light had suddenly gone out of his life, took it up again, read it carefully, and then 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.
[UK]I. Welsh Filth 162: I go to knock up Bladesey but he’s out.
[Ire]G. Coughlan Everyday Eng. and Sl. [Internet] 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.
[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 www.fakku.net [Internet] Knock me up...Empty ya nads in me!

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] ‘The Cly-Pecker’ Swell!!! or, Slap-Up Chaunter 38: If he’s green, and well-breech’d, I will knock up a fire.
[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.

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.
[Aus]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].