Near the knuckle


      • borderline offensive or inappropriate
        Describing something as close to being offensive or inappropriate

      • risky or dangerous
        Describing a situation or action as being close to being risky or dangerous

    Examples of Near the knuckle

    • In the latest episode of the sketch comedy show, the writer's joke about the politician's extramarital affair was near the knuckle, with its double entendre and suggestive tone.

      The phrase "near the knuckle" is used to describe humor, writing, or speech that is bordering on being crude or explicit in nature. It comes from the idea that a punch in the knuckle is a painful and vulgar thing, and something that is "near the knuckle" is nearly as painful or vulgar in its impact. In this example, the joke about the politician's affair is pushing the boundaries of what is considered acceptable, as the humor is both suggestive and risqué.

    • The stand-up comedian's routine at the comedy club delved near the knuckle, with his frequent use of profanity and lewd anecdotes that left the audience both laughing and cringing at the same time.

      In this example, the comedian's material is deliberately crude and explicit, often venturing into territory that is uncomfortable for some listeners. The phrase "near the knuckle" captures the idea that this type of humor is edgy and risky, as it walks a fine line between being entertaining and being overly explicit.

    • In the heavily censored version of the movie, the director's original script was forced to be toned down, with several scenes being pulled near the knuckle due to their explicit nature.

      This example is a use of the phrase "near the knuckle" in a non-humorous context, as it is being used to describe scenes that were considered too explicit or vulgar to include in the final cut of the movie. The director's original script likely featured content that was borderline inappropriate, which had to be altered or removed in order to obtain the necessary rating for the movie's intended audience.

    • The comedian's stand-up routine was near the knuckle, with plenty of crude jokes that left the audience both laughing and slightly uncomfortable.

      When something is described as being "near the knuckle", it means that it is quite close to being explicitly rude, crude, or explicit in nature. In this context, the joke told by the comedian was simply edgy enough to be considered amusing, but also borderline offensive because of the content. The expression "near the knuckle" comes from the idea that material that is too taboo or crude to be publicly accepted is often thought of as being below the belt, or "near the knuckle" where the knuckles of the fingers meet the palm.

    • The photographer's images were near the knuckle, capturing images that were both striking and provocative.

      In this example, the photographer's photographs are described as being "near the knuckle" because they are graphic, explicit, or challenging in some way. These images may be graphic in nature due to their subject matter or their artistic style, but they are also definitely thought-provoking and encourage viewers to see things in a different light. While they may not be something that everyone would be comfortable with, they are undoubtedly impactful and memorable, making a strong impression on those who see them.

    • The politician's comments were near the knuckle, but he defended himself by saying that he was just telling it like it is.

      This example describes a politician's remarks as being "near the knuckle" because they were highly critical, frank or explicit in nature, and could potentially cause offense. In such a situation, the person making such comments may argue that they are being completely honest, and that they're simply saying what everyone is thinking but couldn't articulate. The expression "near the knuckle" is used to describe such comments because they are dangerously close to being considered rude, scandalous or improper.

    • The film's plot was near the knuckle, with plenty of twists and turns that kept the audience guessing until the very end.

      Here, the film's narrative is described as being "near the knuckle" because it was very suspenseful and intriguing, with lots of unexpected twists and turns. These twists and turns may be risky or shocking in nature, and could potentially be considered unsettling or scandalous, but the effect is that the audience is kept guessing and completely engaged throughout the film's duration. The expression "near the knuckle" is used to describe such a narrative because it's incredibly absorbing and keeps the audience guessing until the very end, just like a risky or taboo joke keeps an audience guessing till the punchline.


    The idiom "near the knuckle" is used to express that something is borderline offensive or inappropriate, or that a situation or action is close to being risky or dangerous. It is often used to caution against engaging in something that could lead to negative consequences.

    It can also be used to describe something as being on the edge of acceptability, often in a humorous or light-hearted manner. Overall, the idiom is used to convey a sense of caution or warning about the potential consequences of a particular action or situation.

    Origin of "Near the knuckle"

    The origin of the idiom "near the knuckle" is uncertain, but it is believed to have originated in the early 20th century, possibly from the world of boxing. The "knuckle" refers to the joints of the fingers, and being "near the knuckle" could be a reference to being close to hitting someone in a way that is not allowed in the sport.

    Another theory is that it may have originated from the use of a ruler or stick to rap the knuckles of a student as a form of punishment in schools. The idiom then evolved to describe something that is close to being punished or reprimanded.

    Overall, the exact origin of the idiom "near the knuckle" remains uncertain, but it has been in use for many years to convey the idea of something being close to being offensive or risky.