Word of the Day: knack

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Word of the Day
March 15, 2016
knack (noun)
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Sylvia has a knack for math.
Knack is a word used informally to mean 'a skill or ability' and it can also mean 'a clever way of doing something.' Knack also means 'a particular talent for doing something' or 'a tendency to do something.'


Example sentences


Sylvia has a real knack with children; they adore her.
The washing machine does work, but you have to press the button a certain way; there's a knack to it.
Alicia has a knack for computer programming and works for a tech company in San Francisco.
Melanie has a knack of picking the wrong boyfriends; they always end up breaking her heart.


Don't confuse it with
The term knackered sounds similar but means something completely different. It is very common in the UK, especially in informal conversation, and means 'extremely tired.' For example, "I was knackered last night and slept for 12 hours." It is not very common in the US, where we would just say "really tired" or something similar.
Did you know?
Knack can be used with either "for" or "of" when talking about a talent or tendency. Some dictionaries say that "knack of" should be used with a behavior or tendency (ie, "a knack of picking the wrong boyfriends") and "knack for" should be used for a skill (ie, "a knack for computer programming"), but many native speakers don't know about this rule.
Knack dates back to the middle of the 14th century and originally meant 'trick' in Middle English; it may be the same word as knak, meaning 'a sharp-sounding blow, rap, or cracking noise.'
Knack in other languages
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