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[nak-er] /ˈnæk ər/
noun, British
a person who buys animal carcasses or slaughters useless livestock for a knackery or rendering works.
a person who buys and dismembers old houses, ships, etc., to salvage usable parts, selling the rest as scrap.
Dialect. an old, sick, or useless farm animal, especially a horse.
Obsolete. a harness maker; a saddler.
Origin of knacker
1565-75; knack (< Scandinavian; compare Icelandic hnakkr nape of the neck, saddle) + -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for knacker
Historical Examples
  • Perhaps he is standing in the stable in the knacker's House, or whatever your father's castle was called.

  • First of all he went to the knacker, Sanin, who lived in a village near.

  • When this came to the ear of the real Princess, she promised the knacker a piece of gold if he would do her a slight service.

  • "Well—if I must, I must," said the knacker, with affected reluctance.

    The Mysteries of London, v. 1/4 George W. M. Reynolds
  • Another five councils, and my beasts will only be fit for the knacker's yard—not a car will have a wheel on it.

    The Death of the Gods Dmitri Mrejkowski
  • "It is God's truth—and now that I've said it, I'll stick to it," said the knacker.

    The Mysteries of London, v. 1/4 George W. M. Reynolds
  • But the huntsman said, “My master, bid them bring hither into the courtyard an old mare fit for naught but the knacker.”

  • The bell on the neck of the knacker's old steed tolls him to the grave.

  • Better die now, while I am with thee, than fall into the knacker's hands.

    Rookwood William Harrison Ainsworth
  • "Now so surely as I am Kurt, the knacker, there is more in this priestling than meets the eye," he muttered.

    The Doomsman Van Tassel Sutphen
British Dictionary definitions for knacker


a person who buys up old horses for slaughter
a person who buys up old buildings and breaks them up for scrap
(usually pl) (slang) another word for testicle
(Irish, slang) a despicable person
(transitive; usually passive) (slang) to exhaust; tire
Word Origin
C16: probably from nacker saddler, probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse hnakkur saddle
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for knacker

usually in past tense, knackered, "to kill, castrate" (1855), but most often used in weakened sense of "to tire out" (1883); apparently from knacker (n.) "worn-out or useless horse," 1812, of unknown origin; possibly from a dialectal survival of a Scandinavian word represented by Old Norse hnakkur "saddle," hnakki "back of the neck," and thus possibly related to neck (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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