Word Origin & History
O.E. cniht "boy, youth, servant," common W.Gmc. (cf. O.Fris. kniucht, Du. knecht, M.H.G. kneht "boy, youth, lad," Ger. Knecht "servant, bondman, vassal"), of unknown origin. Meaning "military follower of a king or other superior" is from c.1100. Began to be used in a specific military sense in Hundred
Years War, and gradually rose in importance through M.E. period until it became a rank in the nobility 16c. The verb meaning "to make a knight of (someone)" is from c.1300. Knighthood is O.E. cnihthad "the period between childhood and manhood;" sense of "rank or dignity of a knight" is from c.1300. The chess piece so called from c.1440. Knight in shining armor is from 1965. Knights of Columbus, society of Catholic men, founded 1882 in New Haven; Knights of Labor, trade union association, founded in Philadelphia, 1869; Knights of Pythias, secret order, founded in Washington, 1864.