1. knock on wood
Perhaps one of the most common expressions and apostropaic superstitions in the West and the Middle East, it is translatable to many other languages in the world.Example 1: We haven’t had any problems with the new computer, knock on wood. Example 2: I hope I pass the test tomorrow, knock on wood.
*In British English, ‘touch wood’ is also used, similar to the Spanish equivalent: ‘tocar madera’.
2. don’t knock it till you try it
‘To knock’ in this expression means ‘to say no to’, ‘to attack’ or ‘to belittle’ (something or someone). It means, ‘do not criticize or rule something out if you have not tried it yet’.Example 1: The idea of eating snails is not very appealing to me, but I guess… don’t knock it till you try it, right? Example 2: He never wanted to go to couple’s therapy but decided to give it a shot. Don’t knock it till you try it, he thought.
3. to knock someone up (to get someone knocked up)
Mostly in North American English, this is quite a scandalous expression, depending on your tone of voice when you say it: it means to get someone pregnant. However, in British English, ‘to knock someone up’ simply means to wake someone up… imagine the confusion this could cause across the pond!Example 1: To be a father, it takes more than knocking someone up [getting someone pregnant]. Example 2: I’ll knock you up [wake you up] at 6 tomorrow morning so we can leave on time. (British usage)
In Spanish: embarazar a alguien (get someone pregnant) or despertar a alguien (wake someone up).
4. to knock something over
This means to make something fall or tip over, like a glass of water, usually unintentionally.Example 1: When he was reaching for the glass, he accidentally knocked it over and it spilled everywhere and broke into pieces. Example 2: Move the glass away from the edge of the table so it doesn’t get knocked over.
5. to knock someone out
This means to make someone unconscious, usually by physically hitting them (like in boxing) but also more figuratively (like after a night out drinking). By extension, ‘knock it out’ means to stop something (to cause something not to function – see number 6).Example 1: The boxer knocked out his opponent in the final round. Example 2: When I really can’t sleep, I take a sleeping pill and it knocks me out.
6. ‘knock it out!’ / ‘knock it off’
This is a colloquial way to say ‘stop!’ doing something annoying, like playing loud music or bothering someone. You can also say ‘cut it out’.Example 1: Seriously, knock it out already! Example 2: Stop repeating everything I say! Knock it off, will you?
7. She’s a knock-out
This means that someone is absolutely gorgeous or stunning. The idea comes from number 5 – to make someone pass out.Example 1: Now over 70, Sophia Loren is still a knock-out. Example 2: She’s an absolute knock-out, you can’t take your eyes off of her.
8. Knock ‘em dead!
We use this expression to cheer someone on before doing something nerve-racking, like giving a speech or going on stage. You can also say “break a leg” or simply, “good luck.” But this expression is more motivating because it isn’t just about wishing someone good luck, but also saying that you’re going to amaze your audience.Example 1: ‘My speech starts in 10 minutes…’ ‘Knock ‘em dead!’ Example 2: ‘I’m so nervous about my performance tomorrow.’ ‘Don’t be, you’ll knock ‘em dead!’