1. in sexual contexts.
(a) a promiscuous man, a whoremonger.
|Woman is a Weathercock I ii: abra: My father is a Ninny, and my mother was a Hammer. capt. pouts: You should be a knocker, then, by the mother’s side.|
|Mercurius Fumigosus 16 13–20 Sept. 146: The City Knockers [...] met with a Regiment of Shee-Troopers [...] at first incounter, there had been old knocking, but that the Shee-Troopers yeelded upon quarter, delivering up their Arms, upon promise of their lives, some thrusts were made on both sides, but no great mischief done. [Ibid.] 25 Oct.–1 Nov. 190: A lusty Book-binder (being one of the City Knockers) [...] would undertake to bind for a Mistriss a Two-leav’d Horn-book in Buff, double guilt.|
|Virgil Travestie (1765) Bk I 50: Venus [...] Bore that old Knocker good Anchises.|
(b) the (head of the) penis.
|Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) II Bk IV 233: I perceived that every cock of the game used to call his doxy his hatchet; for with that same tool (this he said lugging out and exhibiting his nine-inch knocker) they so soundly and resolutely shove and drive in.(trans.)|
|Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Knocker [...] the Penis .|
|Sl. and Its Analogues.|
|DSUE (1984) 656: mid-C.17–20.|
|Confessions of an Eng. Traveller 14: I entered the cunt slowly, wriggling my cock, threading my bulb through her cunt’s hairy lips- and finally my knocker was inside her cunt's lips, and the rest of my long round prick could easily enter.|
|Flashman & Redskins 54: Susie was the perfect fool for any chap with a big knocker.|
|Dict. of Invective (1991) 227: The pregnant sense, however, is in keeping with the earlier use of knock to mean copulation and knocker to mean penis; with such derivative expressions as knocking-house, a brothel, and knocking-jacket, a nightgown.|
2. in pl., as a part of the body.
(a) the testicles [they ‘knock together’ but note knackers n.].
|Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant.|
|Sl. of Venery.|
|in Limerick (1953) 236: There was a young man of Coblenz / The size of whose balls was immense. / One day, playing soccer, / He sprung his left knocker, / And kicked it right over the fence.|
|Down in the Holler 103: Knocker is sometimes used to mean testicle.|
|‘Don’t Call Me’ in Bawdy Songs and Backroom Ballads 63: I don’t want a bullet in my backside, / I don’t want my knockers shot away.|
|San Diego Sailor 59: I reached over and got him by the nuts [...] He got back on the bed without my losing my grip on his knockers. [Ibid.] 83: The mauling he was giving my knockers helped some.|
|Signs of Crime 190: Knockers Low expression meaning [...] a man’s testicles.|
(b) (orig. US) the female breasts; occas. in sing.
|(con. late 19C) Amer. Madam (1981) 206: You’ll pardon me, Mrs Brown. The tits, you got as fine a pair of knockers I ever seen.|
|Hash House Lingo 25: Fix the knockers – look at the nice breasts on that woman.|
|Little Men, Big World 34: She’s a Swedish kid with nice knockers but no brains.|
|Inside Daisy Clover (1966) 166: She bends her arms, clenches her fists over her knockers, and lets out her breath very sharply.|
|Blue Movie (1974) 96: And knocker [...] all the bare knocker you want . . . sucking those perfect pink nipples.|
|The Spy Who Came... 31: An absolutely sensational piece of crumpet [...] with a pair of knockers like the Great Orme.|
|Skin Tight 191: I think you got bigger knockers.|
|Homeboy 4: It sluiced between her knockers and torpedoed out between her legs.|
|Bug (Aus.) July [Internet] Despite his affection for roaming golf courses, Fatty still has a fair pair of knockers.|
|Mad mag. Jan. 48: [heading] Lindsay Lohan. Opportunity Knockers.|
|Slate 20 Jan. [Internet] [headline] The Return of the Pert Knocker.|
|(con. 1980s) Skagboys 30: Ah like a good pair ay knockers oan a bird.|
3. a physically or socially superior individual.
(a) an outstandingly attractive person or thing.
|Ram-Alley III i: Comfort her teares and say her daughters matcht. With one that has a knocker to his father, An honest Noble Knight.|
|Chaste Maid in Cheapside II ii: They’re pretty children both, but here’s a wench Will be a knocker.|
|St Louis (MO) Globe-Democrat 29 Apr. n.p.: Net, clean-cut, effective and plump, her figure was a knocker.|
|‘It’s a Little Bit of Sugar for the Bird’ [lyrics] When she wears my knickerbockers, Her calves are simply knockers, They’re quite a bit of sugar for the bird!|
(b) (US, also k’nocka) the top person, the person in authority, often in comb., e.g. head knocker under head n., top knocker [their ‘striking’ appearance].
|Artie (1963) 51: I’m goin’ to be the head knocker in the push.|
|Main Street (1921) 414: And do you know what the animile was? He was a knocker!|
|Teen-Age Gangs 127: Because Harry was always promoting something, the candy store proprietor had called him K’nocka, a Jewish word meaning a little shot acting like a big shot.|
(c) (Aus.) the ideal, the best way.
|Truth (Sydney) 4 may 5/5: ‘Biggest shake to take the cliner, / That’s the knocker! safe and sound!’.|
4. a form of hair dressing seen as resembling a door-knocker.
(a) ‘a Man’s hair tied behind in a Club’ (Grose, c.1786).
|Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Knocker A Man‘s hair tied behind in a Club [...] I am sorry for your poor Lady said an Irishman to a Gentleman who had his hair Club’d. Who so, Answered he. Because quoth Paddy I see your knocker is tied up. Alluding to the Knocker of a Door, which is commonly tied up when any person is sick in the Houser.|
(b) a form of pendant to a wig, similar to a pigtail.
|‘Sung in Fontainbleau’ in Songster’s Companion 77: My head is puff’d with Mareschal, And to my back a knocker.|
|La Belle Assemblée XVII. No. 106. 27: The physicians with their great wigs had disappeared, and had given place to those who wore a wig with a knocker, while a black velvet coat [...] and an ivory-headed cane were characterizing marks of their profession.|
|New Monthly Mag. XLIX 550: Pig-tails and ‘knockers’ superseded the ponderous ‘clubs’ .|
(c) a small curl worn flat on the temples, a fashionable hairstyle at that time [abbr. door-knocker n. (2)].
|Sam Sly 19 May 2/1: T. H———n, alias Moll H———n [...] not to vainly attempt to cultivate his knockers at the side of his head.|
|Sl. and Its Analogues.|
5. in context of communication.
(a) (US Und.) an informer or complainant.
|Billy Baxter’s Letters 20: Say, Jim, I’ve heard knockers in my time, but Estelle is the original leader of the anvil chorus.|
|Daily Trib. (Bismarck, N.D.) 2 Apr. 2/3: Had the word ‘knocker’ been in Webster’s time as it is used today as a slang phrase, he would have undoubtedly defined it thus:- A poor unfortunate person [...] lacking in judgment, individuality and success themselves, they ‘knock’ and seek to destroy the success achieved by others.|
|Morn. Tulsa Dly World (OK) 13 June 19/2: Knocker — A stool pigeon; to get information.|
|Taking the Count 22: I want to show these knockers where they get off.‘Sporting Doctor’ in|
|Babbitt (1974) 146: If [...] we do not stand at least tenth, then I’ll be the first to request any knocker to remove my shirt and to eat the same.|
|Big Con 122: And they weren’t knockers either.|
|World’s Toughest Prison 806: knocker – One who informs [...] The principal witness or complainant.|
(b) (orig. US) a critic, esp. one who relishes making negative comments.
|Barkeep Stories 41: W’en de bloke gets troo makin’ his spiel I cuts in — not wantin’ t’ be a knocker er nottin’ like dat, y’ know.|
|It’s Up to You 12: Percy used to be a dramatic critic [...] and he had the reputation of being able to throw the hammer farther than any one else in the ‘Knocker’s Union’.|
|From Coast to Coast with Jack London 8: Many an envious ‘knocker’ had his blatant mouth shut up in short order by a persual of its pages.|
|Look Homeward, Angel (1930) 255: Where are all the Wise Guys now who said ‘I told you so?’ They’re all mighty glad to give Little Stevie [...] the Glad Hand when he breezes down the street. Every Knocker is a Booster now all right.|
|(con. 1919) USA (1966) 518: Knockers and slackers always to carp and criticise.Nineteen Nineteen in|
|‘On Broadway’ 10 Apr. [synd. col.] Over at the Hurricane some knockers were knifing another.|
|Big Red 59: Knocking! Everybody around here is a life member of G.A.K.A. Great Australian Knockers’ Association. Membership free. Everyone joins.|
|in Tharunka 13 June 14/5: These knockers, in my book, are lower than the basic wage ladies and gentlemen. They’re as low as a snake's armpits.|
|London Fields 128: I know the knockers take the piss, but there’s considerable prestige in the sport these days.|
|Guardian 13 July 19: How out of touch the knockers of Prescott are.|
|White Trash 53: The knockers could say what they liked about the NHS but it worked.|
(c) a criticism; negative comments; also as the knockers.
|Boy’s Own Paper 10 Nov. 86: ‘Hear that Mortimer?’ cried Larkins. ‘No competition, my boy. There’s a knocker for you!’.|
|Hancock’s Half-Hour [Radio script] sidney: You don’t look too good to me. tony: Oh cor ... winkles, crisps and now the knockers.‘Hancock in Hospital’|
6. (UK tramp) an arrest.
|Tramping with Tramps 211: A Knocker – taken by the police.|
7. in UK Und. uses.
(a) a gambler or prisoner who refuses to pay their debts (which cannot be enforced legally in the UK).
|N&Q 12 Ser. IX 347: Knocker. Non-payer.|
|Lowlife (2001) 172: If I didn’t pay up soon I would be branded as a knocker, a man who didn’t honour his debts.|
|‘Prison Language’ in Michaels & Ricks (1980) 525: Tobacco may [...] be bet, in which case care must be taken to avoid making a bet with a knocker or defaulter.|
|(con. 1970s) A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun 199: Those who did not pay their debts were known as ‘knockers’, or Tilbury dockers in rhyming slang.|
(b) one who passes bad cheques or gains goods on credit — and fails to pay the bill.
|‘English Und. Sl.’ in Variety 8 Apr. n.p.: Knocker or shyster—Welsher.|
|Crust on its Uppers 25: We’re knockers, that’s what we are. We swim into a shop in Bond Street. Need a tie? Have a dozen. Knock, morrie.|
(c) (UK Und.) a scrounger.
|Boss of Britain’s Underworld 71: There were the usual run of pay-outs [...] The knockers and tappers who always had to be looked after.|
8. see hard-hitter n.
9. see knocko n.
SE in slang uses
see knock-down n. (1b)
an ugly face, or the person who ‘owns’ it.
|Argot and Sl. 272: Monstrico, m. (familiar), ugly person, one with a knocker face.|
|Sl. and Its Analogues.|
low-value goods that are sold door-to-door, mainly as a pretext for gaining an introduction to the owner, who may thus be defrauded of heirlooms and/or valuables.
|Cheapjack 188: ‘As soon as I can lay me ’ands on a bit of gelt,’ he went on, ‘I’m going to lay it out in some good knocker gear. You can’t beat gear.’.|
a door-to-door pedlar.
|DSUE (1984) 657: [...] C.20.|
dressed in one’s best clothes.
|Leics. Chron. 24 May 12/4: In their eyes every Englishman’s a tramp, unless he’s dressed up to the knocker.|
|Police Sergeant C 21 258: A rya dressed up to the knocker passes and takes a good look at me.|
|New Ulm Rev. 21 Mar. 7/3: Never mind [...] Another week or two, an we’ll be doin’ the toff around lime-us, dressed up to the knocker.|
|Princeton Union (MN) 22 Nov. 7/1: Inside was a dona — a real lady, you understand, dressed up to the knocker.|
(N.Z.) completely drunk.
|Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.|
to live up to one’s means.
|Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant II 22/2: Live up to the door (popular) to live up to one’s means. A variant is to live up to the knocker.|
1. (UK Und., also on the knock) touring houses, ostensibly to buy or sell goods, but spec. to trick or bully people into selling heirlooms, antiques etc. for minimal prices; thus the knocker (game), working as a fraudulent door-to-door salesman.
|(con. 1840s–50s) London Labour and London Poor I 425/1: ‘Do save all your old lumber for me.’ Of a sudden he begins searching his pockets, and exclaims, ‘Dear me, I haven’t enough change in my pocket, but I’ll soon settle that – my mate has it outside. I’ll just take a load out to the cart, and come back for the others with the money;’ and so he hooks it [...] and that’s what he calls having them on the knock.|
|Western Gaz. 18 Mar. 12/4: Oh! you’re on the knocker [...] Pocket-swag is the goods, ’cause it takes less carrying.|
|Cheapjack 186: The knocker’s the only game in winter.|
|Signs of Crime 190: Knocker, on the Visiting houses to sell or purchase goods, but particularly seeking antiques from elderly spinsters and widows who can be bullied into selling cheaply.|
|in Little Legs 10: When you go out on the knocker, you go from door to door, saying, ‘I’m a traveller . . . have you any gold or silver?’.|
2. (Aus., also on the knob, on the knuckle) at once, on demand, esp. of cash payments, exactly.
|Soul Market 142: ’Arf-a-crown a week, and down on the knuckle.|
|Eve. Teleg. (Dundee) 10 June 8/3: I walks right in to see Mr thingumabob, toot de sweet, all on the knocker, PDQ!|
|Cockney Cavalcade 108: He’ll pay on the knob, if he’s got any money on him.|
|Hang On a Minute, Mate (1963) 12: A pub that didn’t close at six on the knocker.|
|Yarns of Billy Borker 102: Murphy was a good bookmaker. Gave a bit of credit during a bad trot and always settled on the knocker.|
|Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 66/2: knocker, phr. on the knocker punctual; originally ‘cash on the knocker’, meaning cash on demand, prompt payment required; eg ‘Crombie is invariably here on the knocker for council meetings, no matter how busy he might be.’.|
|Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].|
3. working as a door-to-door salesman.
|Of Love And Hunger 23: I been on the knocker meself and I know it’s no picnic.|
(Aus.) to drink to excess.
|Truth (Perth) 26 Nov. 8/8: The stuff what bites an’ pinches / As it did the night before, / When you overstepped the knocker, / Which you've frequent done, I’m sure.|
1. capable, up to a task.
|London by Night I ii: jack: How do you feel? ned: Not quite up to the knocker.|
|Derby Day 110: It’s a splendid turn out. ‘Right up to the knocker,’ as they say. I don’t do things by halves when I go out.|
|Burnley Gaz. 12 Aug. 3/5: He wer’ up to th’ knocker.|
|Comic Songs 10: That’s the proper sort of life [...] right up to the knocker, proper, and no mistake.‘Parisien Harry’ in|
|Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday 21 June 61: Ally’s Own Slang Dictionary. [...] Up to the Knocker.|
|’Arry Ballads 23: I’m up to the knocker, I tell you.|
|Shellback 24: He must [...] know his duty ‘up to the knocker’.|
|We of the Never-Never (1962) 144: Got everything up to knocker, haven’t they?|
|Dubliners (1956) 166: Weren’t some of the Popes – of course, not our present man, or his predecessor, but some of the old Popes – not exactly... you know... up to the knocker?‘Grace’|
|Sheepmates 26: Not quite up to the knocker, Son?|
2. fashionably dressed or over–dressed.
|, ,||Sl. Dict.|
|Wild Boys of London I 106/2: The liveliest of our friends, the Dolphin, having once more put on his respectable dress, resolved to lose no time in putting himself forward [...] ‘Up to the knocker,’ said Hallelujah, beginning to grin at Sam.|
|Five Years’ Penal Servitude 243: She were a fine woman, and togged like a lady right up to the knocker.|
|Tag, Rag & Co. 243: I shall have ’em all on to-morrow – tidy sort of weskit, cuffs, collar, and dicky – all up to the knocker.|
|Rainbow Gold I 198: He’s dressed too [...] dressed up to the knocker.|
|Jonah 67: But now, gimme somethin’ new, if it’s only a bit o’ ribbon in me ’at, an’ I feel dressed up ter the knocker.|
|Spend, Spend, Spend (1978) 221: Dressed up to the knockers I was.|
3. in prime condition; enjoying oneself.
|‘’Arry at the Sea-Side’ in Punch 10 Sept. 111/1: Oh, I’m up to the knocker, I tell yer; fresh ’errins for breakfast, old pal, / Bottled beer by the bucket, prime ’bacca, and oh, such a scrumptious young gal.|
|‘’Arry at the Play’ in Punch 2 Nov. in (2006) 40: It suits me right up to the knocker.|
|Sporting Times 1 Mar. 2/2: ‘It was a spiff affair, I can tell you. Right up to the knocker’.|
|Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 5 June 1/4: Wotever they said they’d pay they paid up to ther knocker.|
|Rigby’s Romance (1921) Ch. xxx: [Internet] I was edicated up to the knocker before ever I seen Nora.|