Silent K Words

There are many letters that we see and write but do not pronounce. These silent letters are a challenge. But there are many patterns we can learn to make reading and pronunciation easier. Silent K is a common pattern. 

If you see a word that starts with KN-, you only pronounce the N. So knight sounds exactly the same as night and knot is pronounced exactly the same as not. Notice that this is very similar to the pattern for silent G words.


Like many silent letters, the K was not always silent. In Old English, the word knight was once cniht and knot was once cnotta, and the K sound at the beginning used to be pronounced, up until about the 17th century. But because the K-N combination is difficult to pronounce, over hundreds of years we elided it until it disappeared completely. In many other Germanic languages, the K is still pronounced in related words.


Examples 

Here's a word list with 15 examples of silent K words.

Silent K Word List
Word IPA PoS Definition
knock /nɑk/ v. to hit sth with the knuckles
knight /naɪt/ n. a soldier who wore armor
know /noʊ/ v. to have in your mind
knot /nɑt/ n. the part where rope is tied
knuckle /ˈnʌkəl/ n. a joint in the fingers
knee /ni/ n. the large joint in the leg
knit /nɪt/ v. to make something from yarn
knife /nʌɪf/ n. a tool with a blade for cutting
knob /nɒb/ n. a ball-shaped handle
knack /nak/ n. a natural skill
knickers /ˈnɪkərz/ n. an old word for pants
knead /niːd/ v. fold dough by hand
knapsack /ˈnapsak/ n. a backpack
knickknack /ˈnɪknak/ v. a small decorative object

More free resources on silent letters

Dying to learn more English pronunciation? Take a look at our other blog posts about Silent N,  Silent L, Silent B, Silent G and Deleted Syllables.

Silent K Words

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