"I usually knock off at 6", i heard an english gentleman say that. Does it sound odd only to me? In fact, what I heard was "I usually masturbate at 6"

Did some research:

found a book (i'm guessing it's for non native speakers) advanced vocab in use; it says:

It would definitely sound like something sexually oriented in the US. So, the book says it's informal for "finishing work"; thefreedictionary says the same (7th meaning is " to have sexual intercourse with; to seduce")

So i have severalquestions:

1 Does this phrase have any sexual connotations in the UK or Australia?

2 How much is it used in the UK and Australia (meaning "finishing work")?

3 Does this vocab sentence sound odd to you (British and Australians (and Americans))

  • 4
    In the US, "knock off work at X PM" is a very common way to express when one leaves a job for the day. Absolutely nothing sexual implied.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 3:48
  • I would differ with you here that it's a very common way as the majority of people I know would never say that maybe it's just that I never heard about that expression maybe that's the problem but it sounds odd to many people I asked around here depends on a person I'd say
    – HUIta
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 4:13
  • You can differ all you want, but you'll be wrong. In every context I have ever been aware "knock off" refers to finishing work.
    – user53089
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 4:40
  • I just want to validate your concern, Alex. The people you are polling here are not in their teens or early twenties. To my (US) ear, there's nothing sexual implied. But you might get a different answer from a younger crowd. Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 12:22
  • @aparente001 well, yeah i guess that's correct i was just thinking about that too, thanks!
    – HUIta
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 17:41

4 Answers 4


In Britain 'to knock off [work]' is a perfectly normal and innocent thing to say. It is informal so you might more often hear 'to finish work' or 'to leave work'.

I've never heard it used to mean 'masturbate'.

In Britain someone might say 'to knock one out' to mean masturbate but the addition of the words 'one' and 'out' makes the verb completely different.

  • Whilst I agree entirely with your first paragraph (about work), I would add that it also has a sexual connotation - which may be slightly dated - though I have never known the two to be confused, other than by someone intent on creating a double entendre. I agree that I have never known it to mean 'to masturbate'. And I do not recognise the sense in your final paragraph.
    – WS2
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 23:07
  • Thanks, the man was on the phone and when he said it I was like "what!?" It was bizarre really was
    – HUIta
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 23:45
  • @WS2 - I've just corrected my final paragraph. Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 23:46
  • 1
    I've never known it use for 'masturbate' in Br Eng, but the OED usage of 'copulate' is well known (though perhaps a bit out of date), and also "knocking shop" for "brothel". But there is no innuendo in saying "knock off" for "finish work". That is the same usage as the imperative "knock it off!" meaning "stop it!".
    – alephzero
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 2:25
  • 2
    I don't recall ever hearing "knock off" used for "masturbate" -- the term I heard most commonly (which was not all that often) was "jack off". "Knock off", of course, has other meanings, such as to kill someone with premeditation.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 3:53

Merriam-Webster, an American dictionary, also has a definition that would allow "knock off work".

intransitive verb: to stop doing something

transitive verb 2 : discontinue, stop <knocked off work at five>

I am American, know this definition, and would definitely assume that someone meant "stop working" if he said "I usually knock off at 6".

  • What state are you from?
    – HUIta
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 1:20
  • I've lived in Washington D.C., California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. I have no idea where I learned the expression "knocked off" for "stopped". Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 1:24
  • I lived in MA all my life knock it off is fine by me but I knock off at 6 - stop working - come on
    – HUIta
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 1:30
  • 3
    Alex, I'm from NY and to me, "finish work" is the only meaning I would understand. However, most people, in this context, would say "knock off work." Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 1:37
  • Its use seems to be declining in both AmE and BrE, Google N-grams so maybe there's an age effect.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 3:57

Australian English follows British usage; i.e. it is common to say 'knock off from work'. There are other (Australian) meanings: to steal something ("I knocked it off"), a counterfeit product ("its just a cheap knock-off"), and to desist ("hey, knock it off, you two"). "They knocked him off" means they killed someone. I (native born Australian, and getting old now), have never heard it used to mean anything sexual. On the other hand, to be 'knocked up' ("Jack knocked her up") is to be made pregnant illegitimately, and to 'knock up' something is to make something roughly ('I knocked up a pergola on the weekend')

  • In AE (east coast, at least) the "make something roughly" notion is "knocked out."
    – Papa Poule
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 2:56
  • @PapaPoule, my understanding of AE 'k. out' is e.g., "the factory just keeps knocking them out as fast as they can", as in, making a number of something.
    – IanS
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 4:14
  • Re:*knock off*. All of the uses you mention (except the one meaning 'desist') are familiar to us in the UK. I am surprised to hear that it is not used Down Under for anything sexual. How about knocking shop? There are also various cricket uses, which I'm sure you know all about. As regards knocked up, I wasn't aware of the 'pregnancy' implication but 'to make something roughly' is certainly a UK use. Wouldn't you also use knocked up to mean 'exhausted' e.g. from playing rugby?
    – WS2
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 8:00
  • @WS2 Knocked up is definitely used for pregnancy in the UK as well, though I suspect (without bothering to check) that both it and “knock it off!” are AmE in origin. (Slight niggle: surely the desisting sense is familiar to those in the UK, just not really actively used?) Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 17:13
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Re knocked up meaning 'made pregnant'. The OED includes this meaning (noting orig US). Speaking personally, I had never heard it used in that way until now.
    – WS2
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 17:29

The expression to knock off has many senses, all of them colloquial. Below is the OED entry. Sense 12 is the only one relating to sex. Its first example is from 1942, which suggests (from what the OP says about its use in America) it may have been introduced to Britain by American servicemen arriving about that time. No mention is made anywhere of its referring to masturbation.

to knock off - OED entry. (Only the most recent example of each sense is given, though some date from as early as 1616. Sense 1 is found in Shakespeare.)

  1. trans. To strike off by or as by a blow; also fig. to knock off a person's head , to ‘beat’ or surpass him.

1862 Cornhill Mag. June 655, I could knock his head off in Greek Iambics.

  1. To cause to desist or leave off from work; to discharge or dismiss from employment, to ‘lay off’.

1955 Times 9 June 8/3 The Cunard company put the main restaurant at his service and the staff captain ‘knocked off all the men from their duties’.

  1. intr. To desist, leave off; to cease from one's work or occupation; slang to die.

1916 ‘Boyd Cable’ Doing their Bit iii. 49 The factory was knocking off for dinner as we came away.

1969 M. Crouch Essex ii. 28 One who has just knocked off for his tea-break.

  1. trans. To stop, discontinue, give up (work).

1885 R. Buchanan Matt viii, He at once knocked off painting for the day.

  1. To dispatch, dispose of, put out of hand, accomplish; to complete or do hastily; spec. to write, paint, etc., in a hurried and perfunctory fashion. colloq.

1970 W. Garner Puppet-masters xv. 124 Look, you could knock off a few hundred words on Baxx without so much as scratching the surface of your magnum opus.

  1. To strike off, deduct from an amount or sum.

1972 Daily Tel. 30 Mar. 19/2 The gloomy assessment..knocked 12p off ICI's share price in London.

  1. Cricket. Of batsmen, to score the runs requisite for victory, or to oblige (a bowler) to be taken off by scoring heavily from his bowling.

1963 A. Ross Australia 63 18 Pullar and Cowdrey knocked off the 49 required to win without actually being separated.

  1. [imp. use of 3.] knock it off! : leave off! stop it!

1961 J. Heller Catch-22 (1962) xxvii. 294 ‘Hey, knock it off down there,’ a voice rang out from the far end of the ward. ‘Can't you see we're trying to nap?’

  1. slang. To steal, to rob. Also transf.

1973 A. Hunter Gently French iii. 24 Just met a bloke..in the nick... Him what was in there for knocking-off cars.

  1. slang (orig. U.S.). To kill; to murder.

1973 C. Mullard Black Brit. i. ii. 24 In one village a white launched a murder campaign because ‘he liked knocking off blacks’.

  1. Underworld slang. To arrest (a person); to raid (an establishment). 1969 R. V. Beste Next Time I'll Pay xi. 157 You're the sort who'd knock off his mother because she hadn't got a lamp on her bike five minutes after lighting up time.

  2. slang. To copulate with, to seduce (a woman).

1974 Times Lit. Suppl. 11 Oct. 1109/4 Knocking off his best friend's busty wife during boozy sprees on leave in Soho.


  • Thanks, do you know anything about Australia how it's used there?
    – HUIta
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 23:46

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