knuckle under(redirected from they knuckle under)
To yield or submit (to someone or something). The committee is pressuring me to approach this project differently, but I refuse to knuckle under. Tom said he would never knuckle under to our father and stormed out of the house, never to return.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
knuckle under, to
To give in under pressure; to admit defeat. The origin of this expression is disputed. One writer claims it comes from the custom of striking the underside of a table with the knuckles when one was defeated in an argument. However, the noun knuckle once meant the end of any bone at the joint where it forms a protuberance, as at the knee, elbow, and finger joints. The verb to knuckle originally meant “to bend down” or “stoop” (probably from the joint’s bending), and by extension “to comply with” or “submit to”—it was so used from the 1700s on. The first appearance in print of knuckle under with this same meaning was in 1882. To knuckle down, on the other hand, while it originally may have been synonymous with knuckle under, today means to apply oneself resolutely to something. This meaning was first recorded in 1864.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer