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a. A medieval tenant giving military service as a mounted man-at-arms to a feudal landholder.
b. A medieval gentleman-soldier, usually high-born, raised by a sovereign to privileged military status after training as a page and squire.
c. A man holding a nonhereditary title conferred by a sovereign in recognition of personal merit or service to the country.
2. A man belonging to an order or brotherhood.
a. A defender, champion, or zealous upholder of a cause or principle.
b. The devoted champion of a lady.
4. Abbr. Kt or N Games A chess piece, usually in the shape of a horse's head, that can be moved two squares along a rank and one along a file or two squares along a file and one along a rank. The knight is the only piece that can jump other pieces to land on an open square.
tr.v. knight·ed, knight·ing, knights
To raise (a person) to knighthood.

[Middle English, from Old English cniht.]

knight′ly adj. & adv.
knight′li·ness n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


  • on one's high horse - At one time, knights, kings, and other VIPs rode on chargers, while ladies and others rode on smaller saddle horses, begetting the phrase "on one's high horse."
  • full tilt - Meaning "full speed," it is from the encounter at full gallop of knights in a tilt (lance combat).
Farlex Trivia Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
This time it was a White Knight. He drew up at Alice's side, and tumbled off his horse just as the Red Knight had done: then he got on again, and the two Knights sat and looked at each other for some time without speaking.
Check!' and a Knight dressed in crimson armour came galloping down upon her, brandishing a great club.
It will add another grace to his triumph, and teach fair ladies to prize the love of valiant knights, who can exalt them to such distinction.''
The knights and spectators are alike impatient, the time advances, and highly fit it is that the sports should commence.''
We had one tournament which was continued from day to day during more than a week, and as many as five hundred knights took part in it, from first to last.
Then Sir Brian de les Isles and Grummore Grummorsum, knights of the castle, encountered with Sir Aglovale and Sir Tor, and Sir Tor smote down Sir Grummore Grummorsum to the earth.
He meant to write a poem in twelve books, each book containing the adventures of a knight who was to show forth one virtue.
The first three books tell the adventures of the Red Cross Knight St.
He told him, moreover, that in this castle of his there was no chapel in which he could watch his armour, as it had been pulled down in order to be rebuilt, but that in a case of necessity it might, he knew, be watched anywhere, and he might watch it that night in a courtyard of the castle, and in the morning, God willing, the requisite ceremonies might be performed so as to have him dubbed a knight, and so thoroughly dubbed that nobody could be more so.
Full of wonder at so strange a form of madness, they flocked to see it from a distance, and observed with what composure he sometimes paced up and down, or sometimes, leaning on his lance, gazed on his armour without taking his eyes off it for ever so long; and as the night closed in with a light from the moon so brilliant that it might vie with his that lent it, everything the novice knight did was plainly seen by all.
So the brother arose and went and looked, and he said, "I see below a score of stout men-at-arms and a knight just dismounting from his horse.
Then answered him the gentle knight With words both fair and thee: "God save thee, my good Robin, And all thy company!"