From "Far From the Madding Crowd":

The fire before them wasted away. "Men," said Bathsheba, "you shall take a little refreshment after this extra work. Will you come to the house?"

"We could knock in a bit and a drop a good deal freer, Miss, if so be ye'd send it to Warren's Malthouse," replied the spokesman.

Is knock in a slang or colloquial phrasal verb for "eat, consume" (food and drink)?
I understand a bit and a drop to mean "food and drink".

  • 1
    'Knock back' might be a more common version, certainly for drink. It's not one I've come across before, but that appears to be the context. NGRAM doesn't of course give any meaning, but shows one dropping away as the other rises in usage. Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 20:38
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    Well, since it sounds like it was part of a passage meant to sound like British or Irish colloquial speech, and as such it is very informal. It sounds to me like he is saying that they could eat it better, and more freely. "Knock in" here, I think has a meaning more like "I could pound down a few beers." or "I could knock back a few sandwiches, myself."
    – Msfolly
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 17:08

2 Answers 2


OED 1, s.v. Knock, gives

9. Knock in. a. trans. To drive or force in by blows or as by blows.

In support it cites

1892 T. Hardy in Harper’s Mag. Apr. 704 They knocked in the victuals and drink till they could hold no more.

Robert Graves somewhere observes that Hardy once told him he once went to the OED to confirm a 'country' usage in a work he was writing and found the use described there—with Hardy himself as the only authority!

  • 1
    Goodbye to All That, chapter xxviii. :-)
    – TimR
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 0:12
  • @TRomano Thanks. I loaned somebody my copy in 1981 and never got it back. Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 0:13
  • I might have lent a book to the same person. Time-frame sounds about right.
    – TimR
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 0:13
  • @TRomano Well, he ought to be well read. Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 0:14

Yes but I think it is outdated.

I've never heard it used.

knock (5) —in, (a) to eat, consume, to dispose of food ;


Edit: both uses cited are by Hardy. :)

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