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Related to knuckle down: out of whack, buckle down
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.