Jack asked if there’s any rhyme or reason connecting words
that begin with KN-. A quick perusal of the Oxford English Dictionary and The American Heritage Dictionary of
Indo-European Roots reveals some patterns.
The Greek word γνύξ (gnux) binds together knee, kneecap,
kneel, kneeler, and the like.
Knave and knight originally referred to a young lad.
A number of words refer to cognition or perception. They
include know, knew, known, knowledge, knowledgeable, and similar forms. They
are indebted to the Greek root γνω- (gno-), which meant to perceive and to
The Indo-European root [g(e)n- inspired many Germanic words beginning in kn- that found their way into Old English. The basic
meanings involve compressed materials, bumps, projections, and sharp blows.
That ties the following words together:
a small knoll
to work moistened flour into a lump of dough
the sound made by a bell when struck
a cutting instrument
to tie or fasten with a knot
a small rounded lump or mass
a stroke or thump
rounded top of a hill
a secure, tight tie in a rope, string, etc.
a whip or scourge
the rounded protuberance in a bent bone joint
And you might want to put knackwurst in your knapsack. Both
have at their core the meaning to strike, snap, or bite off a piece. It turns
out that a knapsack is a snack pack.
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