Knit Brows: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
December 9, 2023

The idiom "knit brows" means to frown or scowl, usually because of anger, worry, confusion, or concentration. It describes the facial expression of drawing one's eyebrows together, creating wrinkles on the forehead.

In short:

  • "Knit brows" means to frown or scowl.

What Does "Knit Brows" Mean?

The idiom "knit brows" has two primary meanings depending on the context.

  • The first meaning is to bring one's eyebrows closer together, forming creases or furrows on the forehead. This can happen when someone squints, grimaces, or makes a face.
  • The second meaning is to show displeasure, annoyance, concern, perplexity, or concentration by frowning or scowling. Knitting one's brows can indicate various negative emotions or intense mental effort.

Where Does "Knit Brows" Come From?

The idiom "knit brows" has been used in English since at least the 14th century. The word "knit" comes from the Old English word "cnyttan," which means "to tie or bind together." The word "brow" comes from the Old English word "brū," which means "eyebrow" or "forehead." "Knit brows" originally meant "to contract the brows."

10 Examples of "Knit Brows" in Sentences

Here are some examples of how to use this idiom in sentences:

  • When she heard the bad news, she knit her brows in worry.
  • His boss's constant demands made him knit his brows with frustration.
  • The confusing instructions made him knit his brows in confusion.
  • He couldn't help but knit his brows when he saw the messy room.
  • The challenging puzzle made him knit his brows as he tried to solve it.
  • She knit her brows in disbelief when she heard the outrageous rumor.
  • The mysterious message on the old map made them all knit their brows.
  • The broken-down car on the side of the road made him knit his brows in concern.
  • His stubbornness in refusing help made his friends knit their brows in frustration.
  • The complicated math problem caused the student to knit her brows.

Examples of "Knit Brows" in Pop Culture

Here are some examples of how this idiom has been used in various forms of pop culture:

  • In The Lion King (1994), Simba "knits his brows" when he sees Scar for the first time after his father's death: "Scar? Help me!"
  • In the TV show Friends (1994 - 2004), Chandler Bing often "knits his brows" when he makes sarcastic jokes or comments. For example, in Season 1 Episode 7, he tells Joey Tribbiani: "You know what's weird? Donald Duck never wore pants. But whenever he's out of the shower, he always puts a towel around his waist. I mean, what is that about?"

Other Ways to Say "Knit Brows"

Here are some synonyms or alternative ways to say this idiom:

  • To sulk
  • To pout
  • To glare
  • To frown
  • To scowl
  • To grimace
  • To look angry

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Knit Brows"

Here are some common questions and answers about this idiom:

  • What does "knit brows" mean?

The idiom "knit brows" means to frown or scowl, usually because of anger, worry, confusion, or concentration. It describes the facial expression of drawing one's eyebrows together, creating wrinkles on the forehead.

  • What is the origin of the phrase "knit brows"?

The idiom "knit brows" has been used in English since at least the 14th century. The word "knit" comes from the Old English word "cnyttan," which means "to tie or bind together." The word "brow" comes from the Old English word "brū," which means "eyebrow" or "forehead." "Knit brows" originally meant "to contract the brows."

  • What is the difference between "knit brows" and "furrow brows"?

To knit one's brows means to bring one's eyebrows closer together, forming creases or furrows on the forehead. To furrow one's brow means to make a deep wrinkle between the eyebrows. Both expressions can indicate negative emotions or mental effort, but furrowing one's brow usually implies more intensity or severity.

  • What is the opposite of "knit brows"?

The opposite of "knitting one's brows" is relaxing or smoothing one's brows. This can indicate positive emotions or mental ease, such as happiness, relief, or satisfaction.

  • Is "knitting one's brows" a universal expression?

"Knitting one's brows" is not a universal expression, as different cultures may have different meanings or interpretations. For example, in some cultures, "knitting one's brows" may be seen as a sign of respect, interest, or curiosity rather than anger, worry, or confusion. Therefore, it is essential to consider the context and the culture when using or understanding this idiom.

  • Is "knit brows" a common idiom?

Yes, it's a relatively common idiom used to describe someone's facial expression when they are puzzled, concerned, or thoughtful.

  • Can you use "knit brows" in a positive context?

While it's possible, "knit brows" is generally associated with negative or serious emotions, such as concern or confusion.

  • Are there variations of the idiom "knit brows"?

Yes, similar expressions include "furrowed brows" and "raised eyebrows," which convey different nuances of facial expressions.

  • Does "knit brows" always involve actual knitting of the eyebrows?

No, it's a figurative expression. It doesn't involve physically knitting one's eyebrows together but rather describes the facial expression associated with deep thought or concern.

  • Is "knit brows" typically used in written or spoken language?

You can use it in both written and spoken language, depending on the context.

Final Thoughts About "Knit Brows"

The idiom "knit brows" is a common and helpful way to describe a facial expression that shows negative emotions or mental effort. Knitting one's brows can indicate anger, worry, confusion, or concentration, among other things.

Key points about the phrase:

  • It means to frown or scowl.
  • It comes from the Old English words "cnyttan" and "brū."
  • It has some synonyms and related expressions that can be used interchangeably.
  • It can be used in different types of sentences depending on the context and situation.
  • It is not a universal expression, as different cultures may have different meanings.

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