Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A clever, expedient way of doing something.
  • n. A specific talent for something, especially one difficult to explain or teach. See Synonyms at art1.
  • n. Archaic A cleverly designed device.
  • n. Archaic A knickknack.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A readiness in performance; aptness at doing something; skill; facility; dexterity.
  • n. A petty contrivance; a toy; a plaything; a knickknack.
  • n. Something performed, or to be done, requiring aptness and dexterity; a trick; a device.
  • v. To crack; to make a sharp, abrupt noise to chink.
  • v. To speak affectedly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To crack; to make a sharp, abrupt noise to chink.
  • intransitive v. To speak affectedly.
  • n. A petty contrivance; a toy; a plaything; a knickknack.
  • n. A readiness in performance; aptness at doing a specific task; skill; aptitude; facility; dexterity; -- often used with for.
  • n. Something performed, or to be done, requiring aptness and dexterity; a trick; a device.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To crack, make a sharp abrupt noise; specifically, to gnash the teeth; make a champing sound.
  • To speak affectedly or mincingly.
  • To talk in a lively manner; narrate.
  • To cause, to sound.
  • To sneer; taunt; mock.
  • n. A crack or snap; a sharp sound; a snap with the finger or finger-nail.
  • n. A dexterous exploit; a trick; a device; a mockery; a repartee.
  • n. Readiness; habitual facility of performance; dexterity; adroitness.
  • n. An ingenious trifle; a toy; a knickknack.
  • n. A kind of figure made of a small quantity of corn at the end of the harvest, and carried in the harvest-home procession.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a special way of doing something

Etymologies

Middle English knakke, from Middle Dutch cnacken, to strike, crack, probably of imitative origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Use as "special skill" from 1580. Possibly from 14th century Middle English krak ("a sharp blow"), knakke, knakken, from Middle Low German, by (onomatopoeia). Latter cognate to German knacken ("to crack"). See also crack. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • There must be, of necessity, a certain "knack" in writing a story in collaboration, even when but two writers engage in the work.

    Jack London's Nonfiction Collection of Unpublished Book Forwards

  • There is a certain knack to lapping a barrel, and probably, not everyone is able to successfully do it, but if you can, it will definitely improve the performance of any rifle.

    Some Rifle Barrels are Faster than Others

  • The knack is the flicking motion that scrapes steel against stone to produce the sparks, and catching the sparks on a piece of char cloth.

    Build A Survival Fire With Condoms and Underwear

  • One pretty knick-knack is a great treasure to them.

    The Effect of Architecture on Home Living

  • A child who has a certain knack for, say, writing stories in English class needs to be taken aside and told it in order to make them realise that they're special, to encourage them and (more importantly) alienate them from the dickwad jocks around, breeding a seething resentment of their low status in the high school pecking order.

    Ten Things

  • With a certain knack for evading a question she doesn't intend to answer, Zadie Smith is able to bulldoze through a Q&A session with the dexterity of a young (but experienced) movie star.

    Zadie, Take Three

  • COOPER: Up next, how Democrats are fighting to overcome what some call their knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    CNN Transcript Oct 30, 2006

  • Whites, however, spent their lives making tools that hammered, cut, tore at nature directly, and only in the one area that they called their knack did they truly make that link.

    Heartfire

  • Well, there must be a knack; and one person who has a reputation for that knack is Angus Reid.

    Canada at the Crossroads: Public Opinion and the National Unity Debate

  • Ephron’s knack is to take an ordinary occurance in middle-class suburbia — a garage sale — and turn it into a scenario thatleaves readers gulping page after page to the resolution.

    Writer Unboxed » Blog Archive » AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Hallie Ephron, part two

Comments

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  • Little things that come easy to people, some odd and pointless, some wonderful and delightful. It feels Scottish to me, and physical as well, something quick, a flirtation, a natural talent.

    May 2, 2010

  • Some think knacks are natural born magical or paranormal or supernatural powers...uncanny knack...such as psychic ability

    Orson Scott Card's series of novels called The Alvin Maker Series is full of characters with this type of knack.

    February 6, 2008

  • Also short for knacker or knackered. E.g. "Moggsie isn't playing this Sunday, he reckons he's knacked his ankle."

    November 8, 2007

  • Offensive? I find it apropos.

    November 7, 2007

  • I love this little Dilbert clip.

    A certain group of professionals might find it offensive, though.

    November 7, 2007