a joint of a finger, especially one of the articulations of a metacarpal with a phalanx.
the rounded prominence of such a joint when the finger is bent.
a joint of meat, consisting of the parts about the carpal or tarsal joint of a quadruped.
an angle or protrusion at the intersection of two members or surfaces, as in the timbers of a ship or in a roof.
a cylindrical projecting part on a hinge, through which an axis or pin passes; the joint of a hinge.
(in a wire mesh) a bend in a wire crossing another wire.
(on a chair arm) one of the ridges left at the front end by longitudinal flutes carved to accommodate the fingers.
Nautical. a pronounced edge formed by a change in the form of the shell of a hull.
verb (used with object), knuckled, knuckling.
to rub or press with the knuckles.
Marbles. to shoot (a marble) from the thumb and forefinger.
Verb phrases
knuckle down,
to apply oneself vigorously and earnestly; become serious: Just knuckle down for an hour or so and finish the work.
Also, knuckle under. to submit; yield.

1325–75; Middle English knokel (akin to Dutch kneukel, German Knöchel), diminutive of a word represented by Dutch knok, German Knochen bone; see -le

knuckly, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
knuckle (ˈnʌkəl)
1.  a joint of a finger, esp that connecting a finger to the hand
2.  a joint of veal, pork, etc, consisting of the part of the leg below the knee joint, often used in making stews or stock
3.  the cylindrical portion of a hinge through which the pin passes
4.  an angle joint between two members of a structure
5.  informal near the knuckle approaching indecency
6.  (tr) to rub or press with the knuckles
7.  (intr) to keep the knuckles on the ground while shooting a marble
[C14: related to Middle High German knöchel, Middle Low German knoke bone, Dutch knok]

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

late 14c., knokel "finger joint," common Gmc. (cf. M.L.G. knökel, M.Du. cnockel, Ger. knöchel), lit. "little bone," a dim. of P.Gmc. root *knuck- "bone" (cf. Ger. Knochen "bone). To knuckle down "apply oneself earnestly" is 1864 in Amer.Eng., extended from game of marbles; to knuckle under
is first recorded 1740. Knuckle-duster is from 1858; knucklehead "stupid person" first recorded 1944. Knuckleball, type of baseball pitch, is from 1927.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

knuckle knuck·le (nŭk'əl)

  1. The prominence of the dorsal aspect of a joint of a finger, especially of one of the joints that connect the fingers to the hand.

  2. A rounded protuberance formed by the bones in a joint.

  3. A kink or loop of intestine, as in a hernia.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with knuckle, also see rap someone's knuckles.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
In short two legs instead of four or two legs and knuckle walking even puts us at a disadvantage.
Dew on the knuckle those familiar verbal tones and inflections take on a
  charged resonance missing from workaday locutions.
It is done when you rasp it on the bottom with your knuckle and it makes a
  distinct hollow sound.
The suds flow freely and the pork knuckle is the house specialty.
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