Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Knackered

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is knackered. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Knackered is an adjective mostly used informally in British English to mean “very tired or exhausted.” 

// Unfortunately, I was too knackered after work to join them for dinner.

KNACKERED in Context

“[Jonathan] Smith played world-class tennis in the Grand Slams of the 1970s. … He calls croquet ‘a great game for anyone who’s a bit knackered’ after the strains on the joints and whatnot from a pursuit such as tennis or rugby.” — Chuck Culpepper, The Washington Post, 9 July 2022

Did You Know?

An apt synonym for knackered might be the phrase “dead tired” for more than one reason. Knackered comes from the past participle of knacker, a slang term meaning “to kill,” as well as “to tire, exhaust, or wear out.” The origins of the verb knacker are uncertain, but the word is perhaps related to an older noun knacker. That word originally referred to a harness-maker or saddlemaker, and later to a buyer of animals no longer able to do farmwork (or their carcasses), as well as to a buyer of old structures. Knackered is used on both sides of the Atlantic but is more common among British speakers.

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