Knock, Knocking shop

Posted by Masakim on February 20, 2002

In Reply to: Knock, Knocking shop posted by Word Camel on February 20, 2002

: : : The question came up in conversation late one night, enough said....

: : : Where does the phrase 'she got knocked up' come from?

: : Excellent question. I could have sworn blind that this was London slang, because it's in such widespread usage over here, but a little research assures me that it's US-based. I have no clue how or why it originated, though.

: : As a side note, it's an interesting little phrase, and typical of the subtle complexities of English. Those two little words have at least four quite different meanings, as follows:-

: : a) To arouse or awaken. "Knock me up at 6:30."
: : b) To create or cook hastily. "I knocked up bacon and eggs."
: : c) To score at sport. "The captain knocked up a quick 30."
: : d) To impregnate. "She got knocked up last year."

: : There are probably others. Never let it be said that English is an easy language to learn.

: A little site called asserts that the term orignates in London. It doesn't give any other explanation but it is listed along with the term "knocking shop" for brothel. I'm not sure whether knocking shop is used here in the US, but it seems like it might be a clue to the phrases origin. Strangely the term 'knock' does not seem to be used as a euphamism for sex otherwise.

: It's not inconceivable that it was orignally a British English term that migrated, then reappeared later as a uniquely American, just in the same way the spelling of the word 'fetus'is thought to be American when it was originally spelled that way in Britain too.

It may be used "for sex otherwise."

knock off (or up) To have sexual intercouse with. Originally working-class slang, this is now a wide-spread phrase -- but still considered 'crude' in polite circles. It is certainly not a very loving term, and is often used with more than as hint of disapproval -- e.g. 'He's been knocking off his old friend's wife for years now'. As with knobbing, it is usually the male who is doing the knocking.
Other related phrases, still very common, are knocking shop -- brothel, and knocked up -- pregnant.
Knock also has the old meaning of penis, dating back to 18th century.
From The Slanguage of Sex (Futura Publications, 1985) by Brigid McConville & John Shearlaw