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near the knuckle
Prone or likely to offend others, especially due to being sexually explicit or suggestive. A: "What did you think of the awards ceremony last night?" B: "I found the presenter's jokes a bit too near the knuckle for my taste." If you want to be a great comedian, you can't be afraid of getting near the knuckle from time to time.
A punch in the mouth. If you keep mocking me, you're going to get a knuckle sandwich!
rap across the knuckles
A quick, minor punishment that serves as a warning. The public was outraged that the company only received a rap across the knuckles from the EPA after being caught illegally dumping chemicals in the river.
rap on the knuckles
A quick, minor punishment intended to serve as a warning. The public was outraged that the company only received a rap on the knuckles from the regulatory agency after being caught illegally dumping chemicals in the river.
rap over the knuckles
A quick, minor punishment intended to serve as a warning. The public was outraged that the company only received a rap over the knuckles from the regulatory agency after being caught illegally dumping chemicals in the river.
get one's knuckles rapped
1. Lit. to get one's knuckles struck with a ruler as a punishment. I got my knuckles rapped for whispering too much. You will have your knuckles rapped if you are not careful.
2. Fig. to receive a minor punishment. The lawyer got his knuckles rapped for talking back to the judge. Better watch your tongue if you don't want to get your knuckles rapped.
knuckle down (to something)
Fig. to get busy doing something. I want you to knuckle down to your work and stop worrying about the past. Come on. Knuckle down. Get busy.
Inf. a punch. (*Typically: ask for ~; get ~; give someone ~; want ~.) A: Nyah! Your mother smokes cigars! B: You want a knuckle sandwich?
knuckle under (to someone or something)
to submit to someone or something; to yield or give in to someone or something. You have to knuckle under to your boss if you expect to keep your job. I'm too stubborn to knuckle under.
rap someone across the knucklesand rap someone on the knuckles; rap someone's knuckles
to strike someone on the knuckles. As punishment, she rapped him across the knuckles. The teacher rapped the student on the knuckles.
white knuckle something
to survive something threatening through strained endurance, that is to say, holding on tight. The flight from New York was terrible. We had to white knuckle the entire flight.
to work hard You're going to have to knuckle down to improve your grades if you want to get into a good college. Volunteers really knuckled down and cleaned up the town after the storm.
knuckle under (to somebody/something)
to accept unwillingly what someone or something demands We want to reach an agreement, but we won't knuckle under to their demands.Related vocabulary: give in (to somebody/something)
a knuckle sandwich(humorous)
if you give someone a knuckle sandwich, you hit them You'll get a knuckle sandwich if you don't shut up.
be near the knuckle(British informal)
if a joke or a remark is near the knuckle, it is about sex in a way that some people find offensive Some of his jokes were a bit near the knuckle and, unfortunately, I was watching the show with my parents.
a rap across/on/over the knuckles
a punishment which is not very severe but which warns you not to behave that way again The company received a rap over the knuckles from the Food and Drug Administration. Her remarks earned her a sharp rap across the knuckles from the Prime Minister.
1. Apply oneself seriously to some task or goal, as in The professor insisted that we knuckle down and get our papers in by Friday. Both this term and the rhyming synonym buckle down date from the 1860s, but the precise allusion in either is unclear.
2. See knuckle under.
Also, knuckle down. Give in, acknowledge defeat, as in The dean refused to knuckle under to the graduate students' demands, or He was forced to knuckle down before their threats of violence. Presumably this idiom alludes to a kneeling position with hands on the ground, knuckles down. [Mid-1700s]
rap someone's knuckles
Reprimand, as in If I'd seen John take that last piece of cake, I'd have rapped his knuckles. This term transfers a physical punishment to a verbal one. [Late 1600s]
To apply oneself earnestly to a task: We've been relaxing too long—it's time for us to knuckle down and finish this work.
To yield to some opposing force: The union knuckled under to pressure from the company. I've made up my mind on this matter, and I will not knuckle under.
n. dice. (An elaboration of bones.) Roll them knuckle bones and tell me that your expense needs earth pads.
knuckle down (to something)
in. to get busy doing something. Please knuckle down to your studies.
n. a blow struck in the teeth or mouth. How would you like a knuckle sandwich?
knuckle under (to someone/something)
in. to give in to or accept someone or something. She always refused to knuckle under to anyone.
n. a strong and stupid man. (Like an ape.) Call off your knuckle-draggers. I’ll pay you whatever you want.
1. mod. having to do with an event that creates a lot of tension, especially an airplane flight. We came in during the storm on a white-knuckle flight from Chicago.
2. mod. of a person who is made tense by something such as flying or sailing. I’m afraid I’m a white-knuckle sailor, and you’d all be much happier if I stay on dry land.
Apply yourself to the job at hand. The phrase comes from the game of marbles, one of the once-popular children's street games. Players shot their “shooter” marble by clenching the marble in a fist with knuckles touching the ground, then launching it with a flick of the thumb. When it was a player's turn and his attention was elsewhere, he was reminded, “Okay, knuckle down.” A similar phrase, “buckle down” most likely came from the idea of tightening your belt before performing an arduous task.
A punch in the mouth. Associated with urban street toughs, the phrase was common in “Dead End” and “Bowery Boys” movies where the threat of being served a meal of someone's fist was all part of the characters' bravado.