Skip to content

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

Exploring the English language Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 2 icon

History & The Arts 

Exploring the English language

How has the English language changed over the course of the last 500 years? What are the social and political contexts that have affected how these changes have come about? This free course, Exploring the English language, will consider the development of the English language from the 15th to the 19th century.

Free course
9 hrs
Debate: Backslang Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Jupiter Images article icon

History & The Arts 

Debate: Backslang

Little Richardjohn, community member, sought entry into a secret world

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
Bridging and the English language Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

History & The Arts 

Bridging and the English language

Dr Fiona Doloughan, lecturer in Literature and Creative Writing at The Open University, thinks the fact that English has become a bridging language has impacted it the most

Article
Radio and the English language Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

History & The Arts 

Radio and the English language

Barbara Mayor, lecturer in the Centre for Language and Communication at The Open University, thinks radio has had the biggest impact on thedevelopment of the English language 

Article
Debate: School slang Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Jupiter Images article icon

History & The Arts 

Debate: School slang

Forum guest Rob Owen wanted to hear the latest from the schoolyard

Article
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
Doing language analysis Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team audio icon

History & The Arts 

Doing language analysis

This analysis of an interview looks at accents, use of vocabulary and grammar, style, the origins of words and how we talk about language

Audio
45 mins
Debate: Nonsense Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Jupiter Images article icon

History & The Arts 

Debate: Nonsense

Community guest Anne Wood asked for help with some research

Article