Definition of knowing in English:



  • 1Showing or suggesting that one has knowledge or awareness that is secret or known to only a few people.

    ‘a knowing smile’
    • ‘But now Draco turned to her with that knowing smile on his lips and his eyes shining brightly.’
    • ‘Her knowing smile didn't give away the fact that she hoped one day he would see her as more than her brother's little sister.’
    • ‘Like most of the vitriol directed their way, they take it with a pinch of salt, a knowing smile and a guarantee they'll have the last laugh.’
    • ‘The trio share knowing smiles, suggesting a sexual familiarity I don't want or need to know about.’
    • ‘One man, however, looked on from his seat in the stand with a knowing smile and a warm sense of satisfaction as he reflected on another job well done.’
    • ‘Earlier this year, Liz Hurley was snapped walking out of the store swinging a bulging carrier bag and wearing a knowing smile.’
    • ‘He gave Andrew a sharp, knowing look.’
    • ‘His lips curved into a knowing smile though Georgia tried to keep her expression as disinterested as possible.’
    • ‘Liam looked at his sister with a knowing smile and winked.’
    • ‘Jade gave her brother a knowing look and smiled.’
    • ‘Mrs. Wexler walked out and closed the door, a small, knowing smile on her face.’
    • ‘European passengers exchanged knowing smiles, amused or not very, according to taste.’
    • ‘This was received with knowing glances and wry smiles.’
    • ‘Alana looked in and smiled a little knowing smile and nodded at us.’
    • ‘Dom and Matt exchanged knowing looks and roguish smiles, and Chris grave an exaggerated groan.’
    • ‘Lynn, Michelle and Tatiana broke off their conversation and gave each other knowing looks.’
    • ‘She was watching us, observing us, and there was a knowing smile on her elfin face that sent a shiver down my spine.’
    • ‘Over his shoulder I could see Dan watching me with a knowing smile, and I felt myself turn a darker shade of red.’
    • ‘Bernice emerged from the dressing room and gave me a knowing look.’
    • ‘Now he was on the couch, a knowing smile slowly spreading across his face.’
    significant, meaningful, eloquent, expressive, suggestive, speaking
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    1. 1.1derogatory Experienced or shrewd, especially excessively or prematurely so.
      ‘today's society is too knowing, too corrupt’
      • ‘A team needs a mix of youth and experience, of young legs and knowing minds.’
      • ‘She seems a touch too knowing for a 14-year-old.’
      • ‘The extras were derived from the local population and Jones remembers: ‘They were all very knowing because they'd all worked for Franco Zeffirelli on Jesus of Nazareth.’’
      • ‘As a person, though, she is very knowing, which is why she's trying to get through the whole thing with a minimum amount of fuss.’
      sophisticated, worldly, worldly-wise, urbane, unprovincial, experienced, seasoned
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  • 2Done in full awareness or consciousness.

    ‘a knowing breach of the order by the appellants’
    • ‘The title track, full of optimism and with knowing references to the band's past, is a marvellous way to start the new album.’
    • ‘This national celebration was full of knowing ironies and jokes within jokes within jokes.’
    • ‘The claimant originally pleaded that the bank was guilty of knowing receipt of funds transferred in breach of trust.’
    • ‘In these cases, the conduct of the employees or agents did involve a knowing and deliberate breach of the order.’
    deliberate, intentional, conscious, intended, calculated, wilful, volitional, purposeful, done on purpose, premeditated, preconceived, pre-planned, planned, aforethought
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  • [mass noun] The state of being aware or informed.

    • ‘As you can see the Vedic way of knowing suggests that knowledge is an intrinsic feature of the soul.’
    • ‘By the time students enter colleges or universities, if they do, their ideas and values about thinking and knowing will have been years in the making.’
    • ‘This other way of knowing resists the objectification and categorization of our experience of place.’