Debate: Knackered

Updated Sunday 28th August 2005

Forum member Kasper wondered if a person was apologising where no offence should be taken

Speech bubbles Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Jupiter Images

Someone used this word -- in the sense of "exhausted" -- last week, and apologised for the bad language.

I have to spring to its defence! It's used in an ironic or metaphorical way, deriving from knacker: someone who slaughters old or infirm animals, and, by extension, the animal itself.

Besides, it can't be rude -- it was used by Morecambe and Wise on the BBC in the 1970s, and you can't get much more respectable than the Beeb.

P.S. The spell checker suggests knockers or knickers!

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

Ta, cheers, much obliged: A brief history of 'thanks' in English Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Shininghope | Dreamstime.com - Thank You Photo article icon

History & The Arts 

Ta, cheers, much obliged: A brief history of 'thanks' in English

There's more to just saying thank you than you think.

Article
Form and uses of language Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 1 icon

History & The Arts 

Form and uses of language

In this free course, Form and uses of language, we will consider how language can be used in different ways for different purposes. To do this we will use the theme of memorial and commemoration. In the first section we briefly discuss the life of the poet Siegfried Sassoon before examining both his poetry and his prose. Through this we will see how Sassoon conveys meaning in different ways for different audiences using different forms. Following this we discuss more generally how different meanings can be conveyed using prose and poetic language.

Free course
4 hrs
How we study language variation Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

History & The Arts 

How we study language variation

An ever-changing language, pulsing and reforming all over the planet - how do you keep up with that? Joan Swann explains how we track changes in English.

Article
Language of Comedy - Cross cultural humour Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University video icon

History & The Arts 

Language of Comedy - Cross cultural humour

German comedian Henning Wehn looks at how comedians play with cultural stereotypes as a source of humour. 

Video
5 mins
Loss of diversity and the English language Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Jupiter Images article icon

History & The Arts 

Loss of diversity and the English language

Dr Daniel Allington thinks loss of diversity has impacted on the development of the English Language the most

Article
Global English Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

History & The Arts 

Global English

David Graddol explores how a language from an island on the corner of the continent went global

Article
Debate: When we use dialects Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Jupiter Images article icon

History & The Arts 

Debate: When we use dialects

Diana Honeybone of The Open University suggested that sometimes the heat of debate can reveal secrets about our upbringing

Article
Debate: Scones Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Jupiter Images article icon

History & The Arts 

Debate: Scones

Community guest Sarah wanted intervention in a marital dispute

Article
Debate: Faff Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Jupiter Images article icon

History & The Arts 

Debate: Faff

The Open University's Diana Honeybone recalls a meeting with a word she'd assumed was local

Article