Definition of bare-knuckle in English:


(also bare-knuckles, bare-knuckled)


  • 1[attributive] (of a boxer or boxing match) without gloves.

    • ‘In 1889 John L Sullivan defeated Jake Kilrain in Mississippi after 75 rounds - the last bare-knuckle heavyweight title contest.’
    • ‘Although the bare-knuckle San Diego pugilist makes a virtue of being unpopular, it's actually a hell of a more pragmatic company than its shrill marketing would have you believe.’
    • ‘But choke holds, kicks, and near bare-knuckle punches are not only legal, but the way to win.’
    • ‘The phrase originates from the days of early bare-knuckle boxing or prizefighting bouts, a time long before any rules were produced by the Marquess of Queensberry.’
    • ‘The art dealer Victor Waddington had an eye with a slightly lowered lid, apparently the result of a bare-knuckle boxing match fought for the prize money to embark upon his chosen career.’
    • ‘He's thin and geeky and doesn't look like he'd be much use in a fight, before or after indoctrination into an underground network of illegal bare-knuckle slugging.’
    • ‘‘The film was called King of the Gypsies and it told the true story of Bartley Gorman, a bare-knuckle boxer born in (my home town of) Uttoxeter,’ explains Meadows.’
    • ‘All of this fine acting is secondary to the stark brutality of the episode, with realistic bare-knuckle boxing, barroom brawls, and swordfights.’
    • ‘Ritchie obligingly came up with the idea of casting the US superstar as an Irish bare-knuckle gypsy boxer.’
    • ‘The A-Team infiltrates a corrupt prison where the warden forces his inmates to compete in bare-knuckle fight-to-the-death boxing matches.’
    • ‘It is believed these tensions arose in the wake of a bare-knuckle fight contest the previous weekend.’
    • ‘Favreau plays Bobby, a construction worker by day who boxes by night - sometimes gloved in the ring, sometimes bare-knuckled as bouncer for his stripper girlfriend, Jessica.’
    • ‘I miss the guys without helmets, Ron Duguay's hair flying in the wind, bare-knuckle punches landing on hardened heads.’
    • ‘I read an article in The Ring which claimed that bare-knuckle fighting in barns is safer than official boxing with gloves on.’
    • ‘Gloves revolutionized the bare-knuckled sport of boxing.’
    • ‘On Anoushka's return to London, where she works full-time as a lawyer, she will have a brief period of rest before continuing her training with bare-knuckle fighters and tyre-hauling around London's parks.’
    • ‘For instance, the Ultimate Fighting Championship which films men in cages bare-knuckle fighting is broadcast on Sky.’
    • ‘He probably would have been more at home refereeing at a bare-knuckle boxing match - or calling time in a seedy East End pub.’
    • ‘Sixteen heavyweights, some of whom have never stepped inside a ring before, will battle it out in what promoters have billed Fight Club night after the bare-knuckle film.’
    • ‘No longer are its streets thronged with bare-knuckled flyweights, the long-term unemployed huddling for warmth around braziers, or urchin children.’
    1. 1.1informal With no scruples or reservations.
      ‘an apostle of bare-knuckled capitalism’
      • ‘Sports fans eat this kind of bare-knuckled action with a tablespoon.’
      • ‘What the media see as progressive self-delusion is actually the opposite: a bare-knuckled pragmatism born from the debacle of the 2000 elections.’
      • ‘Bush and his allies have been described as partisan or bare-knuckled, but the problem is more fundamental than that.’
      • ‘It's a bare-knuckled fight to the death for the American manufacturing worker.’
      • ‘The second big problem was that it was getting dark - just like it does every night, whether you're working on your first gig in the bare-knuckled world of tabloid TV journalism or not.’
      • ‘‘It looks like it's going to be a bare-knuckle encounter,’ said Joe Burnell, a media analyst with Davy, Ireland's biggest stockbroker.’
      • ‘Japan has taken the gloves off for a bare-knuckle fight with China to claim the title of leading economic power in South-east Asia.’
      • ‘A former participant in bare-knuckled White House skulduggery, John Dean, authored a chilling new article for the FindLaw publication.’
      • ‘This year's battle for the Oscar nominations is shaping up to be a bare-knuckle showdown between veterans Eastwood and Scorsese.’
      • ‘This is carparking with the gloves off, so to speak; bare-knuckle stuff.’
      • ‘Bremner's gloves now came off and his bare-knuckle attack on Blair, playing poodle to the Campbell's Rottweiler, grew blatantly more brutal.’
      • ‘That was the common theme in a feat of bare-knuckled rhetoric not often witnessed by the senators, who are accustomed to considerably more reverence for their positions.’
      • ‘Plus, she's a bare-knuckled, gritty mud-slinger that would give Dick Cheney a worthwhile opponent when the debates roll around.’
      • ‘It has more of an international flavor than The Singapore Story, noted for its bare-knuckle account of Separation from Malaysia, and may be more mellow.’
      • ‘In campaign 2004, Bush again demonstrated the Bush family's bare-knuckled approach to politics.’
      • ‘How taxes are spent generally depends on the kind of bare-knuckled political struggle that makes Washington politics so ugly today.’
      • ‘A second tainted election, followed by more bare-knuckled partisan conflict, Mr. Christopher said, would be far more damaging.’
      • ‘In the bare-knuckle street-fights of Australian politics - such as the constitutional crisis in 1975 and last year's Federal election campaign - we have played by the rules.’
      • ‘The hardscrabble, bare-knuckle fight for power is the primitive pulse that runs through his latest novel, The Eagle's Throne.’
      • ‘How else to explain the ‘Mission Accomplished’ photo-op or the bare-knuckled 2002 Congressional campaign?’