Definition of knob in English:



  • 1A rounded lump or ball, especially at the end or on the surface of something.

    • ‘Back inside, there is a chrome finish to dials, steering wheel, door handles and handbrake knob as well as the ventilation controls.’
    • ‘African elephants have two knobs and Asian elephants have one knob on the end of the trunk, enabling them to pick up food and put it into their mouths.’
    • ‘After the glue has hardened, rub fine-grain sandpaper across the surface of both knobs, making their surfaces smooth.’
    • ‘He knocked on the palace doors with the knob of the walking stick.’
    • ‘It is a left-sided flatfish, with its eyes normally on the left side of the head, and it is scaleless, though its head and body are studded with numerous bony knobs, or tubercles.’
    • ‘For example, the handlebar end plugs are unsightly rounded black rubber knobs, rather than the attractive chrome-look plastic buttons that some companies supply.’
    • ‘A raised knob at the end of its snout gives it the appearance of having an upturned nose.’
    • ‘The cane in his left hand was plain wood, lacquered and shiny, with an iron knob on top.’
    • ‘Unlike most ducks, the sexes are similar, although the female lacks a knob at the base of the bill.’
    • ‘Police say thieves are most intent on stealing audio equipment followed by car parts, including parcel shelves, wheel trims and gear knobs.’
    • ‘It had a good thick handle and a rubber knob on the end.’
    • ‘Inside, Sparco race-style leather seats and black/blue leather steering wheel match with the aluminium handbrake, gear knobs and pedals.’
    • ‘The bill is orange with a black knob at its base.’
    • ‘Near the top the trees cleared out, and suddenly I was standing on a knob of rock high above the bay.’
    • ‘He hung it, by its chain, from the knob at the end of the crib.’
    • ‘But look closely - there are tiny pink knobs on those stems, a promise of the new growth to come.’
    • ‘Adult males are solid black with a bulbous yellow knob on an otherwise black bill.’
    • ‘More roomy still are American automobiles from the Fifties with auto transmission and ‘no seat belts or gear knobs to get in the way’.’
    • ‘The policemen carry long canes tipped with iron knobs.’
    lump, bump, protuberance, projection, protrusion, bulge, swelling, knot, node, nodule, gnarl, growth, outgrowth, excrescence, carbuncle, tumour
    nugget, nub, nubble, lump, pat, cake, ball, cube, chunk, gobbet, dollop, piece, bit, portion, wedge, hunk, bar, slab
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    1. 1.1 A ball-shaped handle on a door or drawer.
      • ‘There was a rattle of cutlery on the other side of the bedroom door, and the knob slowly began to turn.’
      • ‘The toilets are fitted with high cisterns, while old-style metal radiators and old doors with brass knobs are fitted throughout the house, giving it a touch of character.’
      • ‘Valerie cautiously approached the door, reaching for the handle and turning the knob.’
      • ‘Updating a scheme can be as simple and economic as painting, replacing or removing unit doors, or updating accessories such as knobs and handles.’
      • ‘Grasping the handle and turning the knob, I opened the creaking door.’
      • ‘Her fingers paused over the cold metal knob that opened the door to the back porch.’
      • ‘When there was no answer, she tried the knob and swung the door open.’
      • ‘Just as he placed his sweating hand on the front door knob he heard a noise from upstairs.’
      • ‘He finally grasped the knob and opened the door.’
      • ‘She grabbed the knob as she heard the lock turn, locking her in.’
      • ‘Rebecca turned the shiny brass knob that led to Mr. Coates' office.’
      • ‘He turned the knob and opened the door slowly, peering inside.’
      • ‘That was an easy job compared to what should have been the simple job of putting new knobs on the damn doors.’
      • ‘Pressing forward, he felt for the knob, pulled the door open and stepped on through.’
      • ‘She pulled at the knobs but the doors wouldn't open.’
      • ‘The manservant turned to enter his bedroom, turning the silver knob quietly.’
      • ‘He turned the knob of her chamber door and urged her to enter.’
      • ‘Luckily, at that moment we reached a simple wooden door with a brass knob and roses carved around the handle.’
      • ‘Aiden shrugged, and suddenly we heard the faint sound of the knob turning as the door began to open.’
      • ‘I turned the knob and pulled the door towards me.’
      doorknob, handle, door handle, grip, pull
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    2. 1.2 A round button for adjusting or controlling a machine.
      ‘she fiddled with the knobs on the radio’
      • ‘The young woman then began to adjust a few knobs on the consul.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, Ant sat before a desk studded with countless knobs and dials, lit by the glow from a monitor that sat by a complicated-looking keyboard.’
      • ‘I fiddled with the knob that controlled the water, turning it until the sprinkler was going full blast.’
      • ‘Select a cooking surface with control knobs at the front or side of the appliance.’
      • ‘A few lights shone on a figure alternately twiddling knobs on various mixers and tapping keys on his computer or midi keyboards.’
      • ‘George reached down and adjusted the volume knob.’
      • ‘The keyboard has 40 buttons and knobs, and it's so complicated I'm sure flying Concorde would be easier.’
      • ‘He slapped the dashboard with the flat of his hand and tutted in annoyance, sliding the knob of the heating control another notch to the right.’
      • ‘Easy-to-read numbers and touch-pad controls, rather than knobs, are easier to use’
      • ‘There's air conditioning, a CD player, computer-navigation system and there are loads of buttons and knobs.’
      • ‘I began to run the water for the bath, adjusting the knobs to reach my desired temperature.’
      • ‘And all controls are push buttons instead of switches and knobs.’
      • ‘He carefully reached up and turned the small metal knob on the wall by his bed, allowing dim lighting to shine from the ceiling.’
      • ‘His television was an antique: unlike the thin digital ones that were all the rage, his was strictly black and white, with knobs instead of buttons.’
      • ‘There were so many dials and knobs she didn't know how anyone could ever figure it all out.’
      • ‘I spent the rest of yesterday afternoon babysitting R's kids, which was fun, although a little alarming, as the youngest one has worked out how to turn the knobs on the gas cooker on and off and it took me a while to realise.’
      • ‘On the other hand, even though old-fashioned knobs and dial-controls are sturdier, they are harder to maintain as dirt can easily accumulate in them.’
      • ‘Cool water ran over his hands, and he adjusted the knobs above the sink until the water became warm and comforting.’
      • ‘The burner and the grill have separate control knobs, and each side can produce 10,000 BTUs at the same time.’
      • ‘A police spokesman said: ‘It would appear that all the knobs on the gas cooker had been left on and the young man lit a cigarette.’’
      dial, button, switch, off switch, on switch, key
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    3. 1.3 A small lump of a substance.
      ‘add a knob of butter’
      • ‘The main courses were quickly spirited away, and generous bowls of steaming tomato soup brought, each with a slice of fresh bread and a knob of butter.’
      • ‘You could cook these the night before if you like and reheat them with a knob of butter before adding the honey.’
      • ‘Dust the scallops with plain flour and sauté in a knob of butter for about three to four minutes.’
      • ‘In a hot frying pan, add olive oil and a knob of butter.’
      • ‘Add the mushrooms and a drizzle of oil or a knob of butter if there isn't enough fat left from the bacon.’
      • ‘I'll melt a knob of butter on top of the pancake while it's still in the pan, before sliding it onto a plate and spreading a thin layer of jam all over it.’
      • ‘Add the onion to the pan with the thyme and garlic and a knob of butter, and cook until soft and translucent.’
      • ‘In a large, heavy casserole melt a knob of butter and cook the chicken until well browned.’
      • ‘Heat a flat heavy-based pan and pour in a little olive oil with a knob of butter.’
      • ‘Dot with small knobs of butter and bake quickly in a 400 F oven.’
      • ‘Saute some spinach with a knob of butter in a pan, with a little seasoning.’
      • ‘Peel a good-sized knob of fresh ginger and cut it into very thin strips.’
      • ‘The potatoes were a little overcooked and would have benefited from a knob of butter melted over them.’
      • ‘There was a plate with two slices of bread and a knob of marge.’
      • ‘I took a handful of fresh white breadcrumbs, a few leaves of fresh thyme, pan-toasted them in a knob of butter until crispy and golden, then set them aside.’
      lump, mass, chunk, hunk, wedge, ball, clump, block, pat, brick, cube, bar, cake, slab, nugget, plug, pad, gobbet, glob, dollop, cluster, nub
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  • 2North American A prominent round hill.

  • 3vulgar slang A man's penis.

  • 4rare A small flock of wigeon, pochard, or teal (ducks)

    ‘peacocks would have seemed but a knob of wigeons in comparison’
    • ‘Little knobs of teal, our smallest native duck, appear out of nowhere.’


[with object]British
vulgar slang
  • (of a man) have sexual intercourse with (someone).


  • with (brass) knobs on

    • 1informal And something more.

      ‘it is the rock 'n' roll statement with knobs on’
      • ‘Romina said: ‘I thought the first time she developed a tumour was hell but when it came back it was hell with knobs on.’’
      • ‘In other words, independence ceases to be a big bang and becomes devolution with knobs on, an incremental process by which the existing Scottish parliament extends its powers.’
      • ‘This is Russian late-Romanticism with knobs on, grandiose choral and orchestral effects with the occasional touch of harmonic spice, that seem to belong more in some Hollywood epic than a concert hall.’
      • ‘Squander Two has an amusing article about British customer service. Everything he says is true with knobs on.’
      • ‘I think this is best described as shooting yourself in the foot, with knobs on!’
      • ‘Super Mario Sunshine is basically Mario 64 with knobs on.’
      • ‘It was a full catholic affair with knobs on, including numerous hymns and several recitations of the Lord's prayer and interminable Hail Marys.’
      • ‘Still, if a referee is going to fall for that kind of prima-donnish behaviour you might as well give it to him with knobs on!’
      • ‘The drawback with extended warranties is that they tend not to be worth the paper they're written on and in this case I fear that applies with knobs on!’
      • ‘Rifkind said: ‘This confirms our worst fears with knobs on.’’
      • ‘On the other hand there's an eclipse today, which my friend Annie says is like a full moon with knobs on, so maybe we are all a bit twitchy and my own private meltdown will go unnoticed amongst everybody else's.’
      1. 1.1Used as a way of returning and intensifying an insult.
        ‘‘Lazy tyke!’ ‘Lazy yourself with brass knobs on!’’
        • ‘So Keir, if you're reading - we had a really great night out so, you know, in your face with knobs on.’
        • ‘When I was a small boy myself, oh, vast numbers of years ago, it was the practice to respond to any bully's insult with a bold yell of ‘Same to you, with knobs on!’’


Late Middle English: from Middle Low German knobbe ‘knot, knob, bud’.