Definition of knockabout in US English:



  • 1Denoting a rough, slapstick comic performance.

    • ‘If this sounds like an unlikely subject for knockabout comedy, it is, but Booker prize winner DBC Pierre almost pulls it off.’
    • ‘These were lively, swift-moving knockabout sketches with a slightly risqué edge for its young audience.’
    • ‘His writing was often deceptively whimsical, full of surreal creations and semi-fictional characters, but behind the knockabout humour lay some of the sharpest political commentary to be found in the educational press.’
    • ‘The mood can shift from knockabout comedy to taut thriller in a heartbeat, which keeps the viewer from becoming complacent: One never knows what the film is going to do next.’
    • ‘It takes something close to idiocy to think that Shaw's comedy Arms and the Man can be played as knockabout farce.’
    lively, active, animated, exuberant, spirited, bouncy, frisky, excited, overexcited, in high spirits, high-spirited, ebullient, vibrant, rowdy, unruly, wild, uproarious, unrestrained, undisciplined, uninhibited, uncontrolled, abandoned, rough, romping, rollicking, disorderly, riotous, rip-roaring, rumbustious, roistering, tumultuous
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  • 2(of clothes) suitable for rough use.


  • 1A rough, slapstick comic performance.

    • ‘People are so sick of the Punch and Judy knockabout which passes for political debate that they are voting with their backsides and refusing to make the trip to the ballot box.’
    • ‘That's where the plot begins and ends, but this is 20 minutes of hilarious knockabout, culminating in everyone getting drunk.’
    • ‘Now, at one level this is all harmless political knockabout.’
    • ‘Behind the day's knockabout lay serious politicking over both policy and personalities.’
    • ‘It may have gone down well with his party activists, but most members of the public will see it at best as political knockabout.’
    • ‘It is a fairy tale with links at various points to The Magic Flute, though there is less knockabout and more gentle humour in Henze's comedy.’
  • 2US A tramp or vagrant.

    tramp, drifter, down-and-out, derelict, beggar, itinerant, wanderer, nomad, wayfarer, traveller, gypsy, rover, vagabond, transient, migrant, homeless person, beachcomber, person of no fixed abode, person of no fixed address, knight of the road, bird of passage, rolling stone
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  • 3North American A small yacht or dinghy.