Definition of knowing in US English:



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

    ‘a knowing smile’
    • ‘Bernice emerged from the dressing room and gave me a knowing look.’
    • ‘Liam looked at his sister with a knowing smile and winked.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But now Draco turned to her with that knowing smile on his lips and his eyes shining brightly.’
    • ‘Now he was on the couch, a knowing smile slowly spreading across his face.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Jade gave her brother a knowing look and smiled.’
    • ‘Lynn, Michelle and Tatiana broke off their conversation and gave each other knowing looks.’
    • ‘His lips curved into a knowing smile though Georgia tried to keep her expression as disinterested as possible.’
    • ‘The trio share knowing smiles, suggesting a sexual familiarity I don't want or need to know about.’
    • ‘Mrs. Wexler walked out and closed the door, a small, knowing smile on her face.’
    • ‘Earlier this year, Liz Hurley was snapped walking out of the store swinging a bulging carrier bag and wearing a knowing smile.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He gave Andrew a sharp, knowing look.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘European passengers exchanged knowing smiles, amused or not very, according to taste.’
    • ‘Alana looked in and smiled a little knowing smile and nodded at us.’
    • ‘This was received with knowing glances and wry smiles.’
    • ‘Dom and Matt exchanged knowing looks and roguish smiles, and Chris grave an exaggerated groan.’
    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’
      • ‘She seems a touch too knowing for a 14-year-old.’
      • ‘A team needs a mix of youth and experience, of young legs and knowing minds.’
      • ‘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’
    • ‘This national celebration was full of knowing ironies and jokes within jokes within jokes.’
    • ‘The title track, full of optimism and with knowing references to the band's past, is a marvellous way to start the new album.’
    • ‘In these cases, the conduct of the employees or agents did involve a knowing and deliberate breach of the order.’
    • ‘The claimant originally pleaded that the bank was guilty of knowing receipt of funds transferred in breach of trust.’
    deliberate, intentional, conscious, intended, calculated, wilful, volitional, purposeful, done on purpose, premeditated, preconceived, pre-planned, planned, aforethought
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  • The state of being aware or informed.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As you can see the Vedic way of knowing suggests that knowledge is an intrinsic feature of the soul.’


  • there is no knowing

    • No one can tell.

      • ‘And the trouble has barely started - water supplies are contaminated, there is no food etc. etc. - once the epidemics start there is no knowing what might happen.’
      • ‘As for now there is no knowing for sure which way our high interest rates, hurtful as they are, will go especially if Government does reduce its borrowing.’
      • ‘Once an agitation takes hold, there is no knowing what turn events might take, particularly in view of the fact that political parties have largely lost touch with the masses and their problems.’
      • ‘If you leave, there is no knowing what might happen to you without my protection, or to your friends.’
      • ‘Since then she has denied the media access and there is no knowing to what extent, if at all, she may have been afflicted by injuries or illness.’
      • ‘Even if the region is now relatively safe, there is no knowing what will happen to the troops once they get there.’
      • ‘A very fit and active 72-year old, she is obviously a woman who lives life to the fullest and with a gold medal for indoor rowing there is no knowing what she will achieve in the years that lie ahead.’
      • ‘There is no knowing whether the full-term child might have survived if he'd had proper assistance.’
      • ‘While your eye may spot talent, there is no knowing whether or not the artist will stay the course, but with prices hovering around €300 it's a gamble worth taking.’
      • ‘‘If she dies there is no knowing what will happen,’ he said and slammed the doors as he left the room.’