widespread in Gmc., this form is now retained only in Eng., where however it has widespread application, covering meanings that require two or more verbs in other languages (e.g. Ger. wissen, kennen, erkennen and in part können; Fr. connaître, savoir; L. novisse, cognoscire, scire; O.C.S. znaja, vemi). The Anglo-Saxons used two distinct words for this, witan (see wit
) and cnawan. Meaning "to have sexual intercourse with" is attested from c.1200, from the O.T. To not know one's ass from one's elbow is from 1930. To know better "to have learned from experience" is from 1704. You know as a parenthetical filler is from 1712, but it has roots in 14c. M.E. Know-how "technical expertise" first recorded 1838 in Amer.Eng. Know-nothing "ignoramus" is from 1827; as a U.S. nativist political party, active 1853-56, the name refers to the secret society at the core of the party, about which members were instructed to answer, if asked about it, that they "know nothing." The party merged into the Republican Party.