The Harrap's New Shorter French and English Dictionary Ed. 1985, defines one of the senses of "knob" as an AmE equivalent for "knoll", i.e. a small, rounded hill or eminence; hillock.

Sadly enough, it doesn't say if this so-called Americanism was to some extent more commonly used back in the 80s than its shared synonym, nor if it ever caught on in AmE in that sense.

And so, I wish you could tell if "knob" for "knoll" has any currency at all in AmE today. Or does it sound unequivocally archaic to your ears?

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Knob?s=t http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/knoll?s=t


The knoll upon which Jacksland stood overlooked the river, just a grassy knob that felt peaceful and untouched... source

  • In Britain I have never heard 'knob' used for that purpose, and 'knoll' is only seldom used. 'Hillock' or 'high ground' would be more likely.
    – WS2
    Mar 25, 2014 at 9:30
  • 1
    The most famous knoll that immediately came to mind was the grassy knoll that figures in the JFK assassination. American press surely didn't choose to call it knob then - and I have actually never heard knob in that sense. And knoll I do know mostly because of JFK... Then again, I am not American.
    – oerkelens
    Mar 25, 2014 at 9:50

2 Answers 2


I would say it would be difficult to find an American that would understand you were talking about a hill if called a 'knob'.

People understand what a grassy 'knoll' is - the place where JFK was shot from, but they wouldn't use it to describe a hill.

Far more likely that it would be referred to as a hill, slope or incline depending on context.


Knob - is used all the time for a small round projectile that turns. Like door knob or knob for car radio.

Knoll - is lightly used for a small hill or embankment. It definitely gets its play from the JFK assassination remakes but I wouldn't say that it is only used there. It is not a common term but it is understood.

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