• IPA: /ˈneɪvəɹi/


  1. The tricks or antics of a knave; boyish mischief.
    • c. 1598, William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act IV, Scene 7,
      […] Harry Monmouth, being in his right wits and his good judgments, turned away the fat knight with the great belly-doublet: he was full of jests, and gipes, and knaveries, and mocks; I have forgot his name.
    • 1820, Washington Irving, “Christmas Eve” in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., London: John Murray, new edition, 1821, Volume 2, p. 39,
      The young Oxonian, on the contrary, had led out one of his maiden aunts, on whom the rogue played a thousand little knaveries with impunity; he was full of practical jokes, and his delight was to tease his aunts and cousins; yet, like all madcap youngsters, he was a universal favourite among the women.
  2. An unprincipled action; deceit.
    • c. 1604, William Shakespeare, Othello, Act I, Scene 3,
      Cassio’s a proper man: let me see now:
      To get his place and to plume up my will
      In double knavery—How, how? Let’s see:—
    • 1720, Daniel Defoe, Captain Singleton, London: J. Brotherton et al., pp. 67-68,
      […] as our little Traffick with the Natives was hitherto upon the Faith of their first Kindness, we found some Knavery among them at last; for having bought some Cattel of them for our Toys […] one of our Men differing with his Chapman, truly they huff’d him in their Manner, and keeping the things he had offered them for the Cattel, made their Fellows drive away the Cattel before his Face, and laugh at him […]
    • 1748, David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Section X, Part II, in Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects, London: A. Millar, 1758, p. 351,
      He considered justly, that it was not requisite, in order to reject a fact of this nature, to be able accurately to disprove the testimony, and to trace its falshood, thro’ all the circumstances of knavery and credulity, which produced it.
    • 1836, “Boz” [pseudonym; Charles Dickens], “The Parish”, in Sketches by “Boz,” Illustrative of Every-day Life, and Every-day People. In Two Volumes, volume I, 2nd edition, London: John Macrone, […], OCLC 912950347 ↗, chapter I (The Beadle—The Parish Engine—The Schoolmaster), page 1 ↗:
      How much is conveyed in those two short words—"The Parish!" And with how many tales of distress and misery, of broken fortune, and ruined hopes, too often of unrelieved wretchedness and successful knavery, are they associated!
    • 1840, Thomas Carlyle, On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History, London: Chapman & Hall, Lecture 6, p. 184,
      I esteem the modern error, That all goes by self-interest and the checking and balancing of greedy knaveries, and that, in short, there is nothing divine whatever in the association of men, a still more despicable error, natural as it is to an unbelieving century, than that of a ‘divine right’ in people called Kings.
Translations Translations
  • Russian: жу́льничество

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