an unprincipled, untrustworthy, or dishonest person.
Cards. jack1 ( def 2 ).
a male servant.
a man of humble position.

before 1000; Middle English; Old English cnafa; cognate with German Knabe boy; akin to Old Norse knapi page, boy

knave, naval, nave (see synonym study at the current entry).

1. blackguard, villain, scamp, scapegrace. Knave, rascal, rogue, scoundrel are disparaging terms applied to persons considered base, dishonest, or worthless. Knave which formerly meant merely a boy or servant, in modern use emphasizes baseness of nature and intention: a dishonest and swindling knave. Rascal suggests shrewdness and trickery in dishonesty: a plausible rascal. A rogue is a worthless fellow who sometimes preys extensively upon the community by fraud: photographs of criminals in a rogues' gallery. A scoundrel is a blackguard and rogue of the worst sort: a thorough scoundrel. Rascal and rogue are often used affectionately or humorously (an entertaining rascal; a saucy rogue ), but knave and scoundrel are not.

hero. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
knave (neɪv)
1.  archaic a dishonest man; rogue
2.  another word for jack
3.  obsolete a male servant
[Old English cnafa; related to Old High German knabo boy]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. cnafa "boy, male servant," common Gmc. (cf. O.H.G. knabo "boy, youth, servant," Ger. knabe "boy, lad," also probably related to O.E. cnapa "boy, youth, servant," O.N. knapi "servant boy," Du. knaap "a youth, servant," M.H.G. knappe "a young squire," Ger. Knappe "squire, shield-bearer"). The original
meaning may have been "stick, piece of wood." Sense of "rogue, rascal" first recorded c.1200. In playing cards, "the jack," 1560s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
It seems utterly impossible to overtake that old rebel hypocrite and knave.
She was hardly worth the hazard run by the knave that fired her.
As loudly as he had been lauded a financial savior months earlier, he was branded a knave and ignobly demoted.
But if the trustee delegates to a knave or an incompetent, the delegation can work harm upon the beneficiaries.
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