Knock Yourself Out

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Revans

Senior Member
Latvia, Latvian
Hi!

What does the idiom "knock yourself out" means?
I know, one meaning is "Please, begin doing it" to show you are unhappy with someone who has complained about your efforts.

But could it also mean "to move out" (leave one's old house)?

Thanks, in advance!
 
  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    In AE it usually means Do as you please!, and is often spoken in a sarcastic or dismissive tone. I have never seen it used to mean anything like move out. The lack of context leaves me wondering why you ask about that as a possible meaning.
     

    MichaelW

    Senior Member
    English (British)
    It means to work or try so hard that you exhaust yourself (as if you were knocked out by a blow).

    It doesn't really mean "begin doing something" and certainly not "leave one's house".

    So you might say sarcastically "don't knock yourself out" to someone who is not trying very hard.
     

    UUBiker

    Senior Member
    United States, English
    There is some idea in "knock yourself out" that the speaker is inviting (allowing) someone to begin (or perhaps continue) doing something. We had a pile of books in the basement of our church left over from the last booksale that no one wanted. A new member asked if he could cart them home. I said "knock yourself out," which wasn't merely "do as you please" (but it was that too), but "start loading the books in your car if you'd like because it makes no difference to me" and implicitly "as pointless as that would because it's a really dumb idea."

    It's more "Go right ahead."
     

    spatula

    Senior Member
    English - London (Irish ethnicity)
    There is some idea in "knock yourself out" that the speaker is inviting (allowing) someone to begin (or perhaps continue) doing something. We had a pile of books in the basement of our church left over from the last booksale that no one wanted. A new member asked if he could cart them home. I said "knock yourself out," which wasn't merely "do as you please" (but it was that too), but "start loading the books in your car if you'd like because it makes no difference to me" and implicitly "as pointless as that would because it's a really dumb idea."

    It's more "Go right ahead."
    Of the suggestions so far, this is the one I feel is most closely associated with my use of the phrase. Similar to 'fill your boots', I use both to mean 'help yourself', but not exclusively for something which is a 'dumb' idea.

    I'd understand MichaelW's suggestion of 'don't knock yourself out' but I'm not convinced I hear it used regularly like this (I'd say more, 'don't strain yourself'). Of your two original suggestions, I wouldn't ever take it to mean 'to move out' and am not familiar with:
    "'Please, begin doing it' to show you are unhappy with someone who has complained about your efforts."
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Yet another AE<>BE divide?

    knock yourself out Please begin doing it
    If you want to make hotel and airline and car reservations and take care of everything, well, then, knock yourself out. Usage notes: usually said to show you are unhappy with someone who has complained about your efforts




    Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2006. Reproduced with permission.
     

    spatula

    Senior Member
    English - London (Irish ethnicity)
    Yet another AE<>BE divide?
    Actually in this context yes you're right, I can hear that being said. I guess the context isn't so different; it still basically means 'go ahead / help yourself / be my guest' etc.

    EDIT: Albeit with sarcasm
     

    UUBiker

    Senior Member
    United States, English
    The wonderful thing about "knock yourself out" is that there's nothing sarcastic about it on the face of it, but it just "feels" sarcastic. It's a very Generation X ("I ridicule, therefore I am") expression. You have cause to be annoyed when someone says "knock yourself out," but you don't have cause to complain (particularly because you're getting what you want).

    The expression is, in some ways, quite literal-- you will be "knocked out" by what it is you propose to do-- that is, made tired, exhausted, etc., by the task you are undertaking. Likewise, the idea is that you will be doing it "yourself," and that I will have no part of it-- the "yourself" part is where the sarcasm is inserted, because the idea is "I [myself] am not getting involved" with what you propose.
     
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    spatula

    Senior Member
    English - London (Irish ethnicity)
    The wonderful thing about "knock yourself out" is that there's nothing sarcastic about it on the face of it, but it just "feels" sarcastic. It's a very Generation X ("I ridicule, therefore I am") expression. You have cause to annoyed when someone says "knock yourself out," but you don't have cause to complain (particularly because you're getting what you want).
    Well, I'd say this is correct when sarcasm is actually intended. However, it is heard in BrE without even a hint of sarcasm or disingenuity, simply to mean 'go ahead'.
     

    UUBiker

    Senior Member
    United States, English
    Well, I'd say this is correct when sarcasm is actually intended. However, it is heard in BrE without even a hint of sarcasm or disingenuity, simply to mean 'go ahead'.
    Do you mean it "is" heard without a hint of sarcasm, or can be heard without a hint of sarcasm? I'm practicing saying it now, and I suppose I can say "Knock yourself out" in a straightforward way. But it's hard. But maybe that's me.
     

    spatula

    Senior Member
    English - London (Irish ethnicity)
    Do you mean it "is" heard without a hint of sarcasm, or can be heard without a hint of sarcasm? I'm practicing saying it now, and I suppose I can say "Know yourself out" in a straightforward way. But it's hard. But maybe that's me.
    It can be - and that's saying something coming from a nation of sarcasm-lovers. Keep practising ;)!
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    The wonderful thing about "knock yourself out" is that there's nothing sarcastic about it on the face of it, but it just "feels" sarcastic. It's a very Generation X ("I ridicule, therefore I am") expression. You have cause to be annoyed when someone says "knock yourself out," but you don't have cause to complain (particularly because you're getting what you want).
    I was hearing it and saying it long before Generation X came to be. Sometimes it is sarcastic, and at other times it is just a matter-of-fact way to say, "suit yourself", with no sarcasm expressed or implied or implicit in the expression. It is often dismissive without being sarcastic.
     
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