Knock yourself out

That’s another of those casual Americanisms that show good command of the language: “knock yourself out”.

This casual expression is used as a reply to someone who asks you whether he or she should do something.  The reply “knock yourself out” implies either that you don’t really care one way or another or that you are okay with it but not overly enthusiastic either.

The tone of voice is very important here, a slightly ironic tone of voice will indicate the notion of “okay, I don’t feel strongly enough about this to contradict but I don’t think its a good idea either.

His mom did not say: "Knock yourself out", pic: http://www.sodahead.com

Said in a lighter tone without the irony it means more like, sure go ahead, its fine by me.

Since this is a bit abstract let me give a couple of examples:

Your already tipsy friend at a party at your house: “I need another drink.  Can I open another bottle?”

You, with ironic voice: “sure, knock yourself out.”

Son to mom:  “Mom, can I have a cookie after lunch.”

Mom: “Sure, honey, here’s the jar.  Knock yourself out.”

This is an expression I would stay away from in business, unless it is a personal conversation with a friend at work or someone on your team offers to do a lot of extra work.  Then a straight-forward, non-ironic “absolutely!! Knock yourself out” would be a good answer.

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