As black as Newgate's knocker


      • to describe something as very black or dark in color
        To emphasize the darkness or lack of light in a situation or object, often used figuratively to describe something as gloomy or sinister.

      • to describe someone as being very dirty or grubby
        To convey the idea of someone being extremely unkempt or unclean, often used to describe someone's appearance or hygiene.

      • to describe something as being very unlucky or unfortunate
        To express that something has gone wrong or turned out badly, often used to describe a series of unfortunate events or a string of bad luck.

    Examples of As black as Newgate's knocker

    • The stormy night left the streets pitch black, as black as Newgate's knocker.

      The idiom "as black as Newgate's knocker" is used to describe something that is extremely dark or black. Newgate's knocker was the heavy, iron knocker on the door of Newgate Prison in London, which was said to be so black from years of use and exposure to the elements that it seemed to absorb all light. Using this idiom in this example helps to paint a vivid picture of the darkness and gloominess of the night.


    The idiom "as black as Newgate's knocker" is a versatile phrase that can be used to describe a variety of situations and objects. It can be used literally to describe something as being very black or dark in color, but it is more commonly used figuratively to convey a sense of negativity or misfortune. Whether it is used to describe the darkness in a situation, the dirtiness of someone's appearance, or the unfortunate events that have occurred, this idiom is a vivid and expressive way to communicate a sense of darkness and negativity.

    Origin of "As black as Newgate's knocker"

    The origin of this idiom can be traced back to Newgate Prison, which was a notorious prison in London that was in use from the 12th century until 1902. The prison was known for its harsh conditions and the high number of executions that took place there. The "knocker" in the idiom refers to the large door knocker on the prison gate, which was said to be black from the constant use by prisoners and their visitors.

    Over time, the phrase "as black as Newgate's knocker" became a popular saying in England, first appearing in literature in the 19th century. It was used to describe objects or situations that were dark, grim, or unlucky. The phrase has since evolved to also describe someone's appearance or luck, and is still commonly used today in British English.