Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard — and told — many knock-knock jokes. Knock-knock jokes are very common in all English-speaking countries. They’re popular in many places around the world, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Belgium, Australia, Canada, South Africa, the Philippines and India.

A type of pun or play on words, the knock-knock joke is a “call and answer” exercise in which there’s a person who tells the joke (the protagonist) and a person who plays along (the antagonist). The basic five-step format of the knock-knock joke is well-known:

1. The protagonist:      “Knock, knock!” 2. The antagonist:        “Who’s there?”
3. The protagonist:      <response — a name or a word>
4. The antagonist:        <response — a name or a word> plus “who?”
5. The protagonist:      <response — a name or a word> plus a pun or play on words

Here’s an example of a popular knock-knock joke:

Who’s there?
Dwayne who?
Dwayne the bathtub, I’m dwowning!
(a play on “drain the bathtub, I’m drowning!”)

It seems like knock-knock jokes have been around since the beginning of time, and no one really knows how they came about. There are a couple of theories, but neither has proved to provide definite proof of the joke’s origins.

Some people believe knock-knock jokes developed as a result of “call and answer” routines that castle guards used to identify people after dark in the Middle Ages. When people would approach the castle after dark, they would have to call out to the guards to get inside.

The guards would answer, “Who’s there?” They would then carry on a back-and-forth conversation about their identity and reason for wanting into the castle. Guards must have occasionally teased people with this routine, perhaps to alleviate the boredom of keeping watch throughout the night.

Others believe knock-knock jokes may have gotten their start with William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In this famous play, a funny character delivers a long, humorous speech that follows the familiar pattern of the modern knock-knock joke.

Today, knock-knock jokes can provide more than just a chuckle. Developmental psychologists now study young children telling knock-knock jokes to assess their language development skills!

Here are a couple more examples of popular knock-knock jokes:

Knock knock!
Who’s there?
Little old lady?
Little old lady who?
Hey! I didn’t know you could yodel!

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
José who?
José can you see by the dawn’s early light?
(a play on “Oh say can you see by the dawn’s early light?”)


82 Join the Discussion

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  1. Hi! I’m attending the NCFL conference this weekend, and here is
    my favorite knock knock joke:

    Knock knock
    Who’s there?
    Jamaica who?
    Jamaica me crazy!!

    Gotta say the last line with an accent!!


    Tanya Zinn Jones
    Title I Reading Teacher
    Fairfax County, VA

  2. Hi! I’m attending the NCFL conference this weekend, and here is
    my favorite knock knock joke:

    Knock Knock
    Who’s there?
    Ada who?
    Ada burger for lunch!

    A southern said this of course! :)


    Cynthia Shelton
    Kentucky Adult Education
    ESL Instructor
    Bowling Green, KY

  3. Knock! Knock!
    Who’s there?
    Demon who?

    Louis Colon
    Family literacy instructor
    Rochester, NY

  4. Hi I am here at the conference also. Here is mine.

    Knock Knock
    Who’s there?
    Atlas it’s the weekend!

    Lakechia Grant
    Mississippi Even Start Coordinator
    Jackson, MS

    • Awww. We love you, too, Crystal (and all of our other Wonder Friends)! Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • Looks like bovine knock-knock jokes are pretty popular today! Thanks for posting this funny one, Magdalena! :-)

    • Awesome one, Maria! Did you know you CAN try again tomorrow? Be sure to check tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day to comment on a celestial Wonder Quest! :-)

    • We’re not crying, Frances…we’re laughing…at that great knock-knock joke of yours! We’re also smiling because of all the awesome Wonder Friends we’re meeting today! :-)

  5. Guess where I am?!!!!

    Knock Knock!

    Who’s there?!




    Lori LeGendre

  6. Knock Knock

    Who’s there?

    Little Old Lady


    I didn’t know you could yodle?! ;)

    Jon Fines (Devoted Wonder-friend)

    • We KNOW you’re a devoted Wonder Friend, Jon! We appreciate you AND your contribution to the knock-knock jokes! :-)

  7. I am at the NCFL conference and here is my knock knock joke for the day:

    Knock Knock
    Who’s there?
    Tom Sawyer.
    Tom Sawyer who?
    Tom saw yer underwear!


    (I have children 8 and 5 and anything involving underpants is funny. Well, tothem anyway.)

    Nancee Pond

  8. Knock Knock?
    Who’s There?
    Banana who?
    Knock Knock?
    Who’s There?
    Banana who?
    Knock Knock?
    Who’s There?
    Orange you glad I didn’t say Banana?

    • That’s a funny one, Paul! A great knock-knock joke from a great Wonder Friend! Thanks for commenting today! :-)

  9. Hi, Wonderopolis. I like knock-knock jokes because they’re funny. Some of them are not funny, though. Do you have a funny knock-knock joke you want to share? I do! “Knock-knock?” “Who’s there?” “Lettuce!” “Lettuce, Who?” “Lettuce us eat some salad, we’re hungry!”

    It’s funny how they use the word protagonist and antagonist. Well, thanks for putting together a great wonder, Wonderopolis! :-)

    • That was a GREAT knock-knock joke, Mahima, thanks for sharing it with us today! We laughed a lot, and now we have a strange craving for SALAD! :-)

  10. Deer Wonderopolis,

    Got ya! Get it? DEER Wonderopolis instead of DEAR Wonderopolis. Sorry, I thought of that, so I had to type it. I was wondering…if an orange is called its color, why isn’t every fruit called its color?


    • You DID get us, Paige! Thanks for stopping by Wonderopolis and making us laugh today! Your question about fruits and colors would make a GREAT future Wonder of the Day®! Thank you so much for WONDERing about it and for suggesting it! :-)


    • That’s a good one, Wonder Friend 18! Thanks so much for sharing your knock-knock joke with your friends in Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • Ha, ha, ha! That was a WONDERful knock-knock joke, Rachael! We liked it very much…we’re still chuckling about it! Thank you so much for sharing your awesome humor with us today! :-)

    • That’s OK, Rachael! Wonderopolis will be here for you whenever you get some more free time! Thanks for being such a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

  12. You’re welcome! I think I’m going to check out the ice cream now!! Not actually checking it out at the store, I mean checking out- err LOOKING at the ice cream wonders!

  13. I got to dissect a frog. You should do a Wonder on comparing a homosapien’s organs and functions to other animals, because it was really fun and we got to see how our bodies work…but I feel bad for the frogs.

  14. 1. Knock Knock.
    2. Who’s there?
    1. Shelby.
    2. Shelby who?
    1. Shelby coming round’ the mountain when she comes!!

    I hope y’all like it:)

    • We sure did, Shailey! That was a SUPER knock-knock joke! Thanks for making your Wonder Friends smile today! :-)

  15. Great video!
    1 Knock-knock
    2 Who’s There?
    1 Justin
    2 Justin who
    1 Just in time for dinner! :p
    I hope you <3 it. :-) My friend Kate made this up if you want to know! :-)

    • That’s a GREAT knock-knock joke, Julie! Please tell Kate we like the way her WONDERful Wonder brain works! It was really funny! :-)

  16. Knock Knock.

    Who’s there?


    Hatch who?

    Bless you please cover your mouth next time.

    • That’s a WONDERful knock-knock joke, Olivia! Thanks for sharing it with us and making our Wonder smiles a little wider on this 4th of July! :-)

  17. Great job with this wonder. I have two jokes for you: #1 Knock-knock!
    Who’s there?
    Justin Who?
    Just in time for dinner.
    #2 What is a crocodile’s favorite shoes?
    I don’t know.

    • He he he, what a great knock-knock joke, Jeff! Thanks for sharing it with us and putting great big smiles on our faces! You’re WONDERful! :)

  18. Here’s one I made:

    knock knock
    who’s there
    owls who?
    that’s right owls whoo

    One a friend of mine had:

    knock knock
    “get away from my door!!!”

    ha ha ha ha

    • He he, you’ve made us chuckle, Tyler J! We love to hear new, original knock-knock jokes to share with our Wonder Friends! Thanks for sharing your SUPER joke, and your friend’s too! :)

  19. I’ve got another one:
    1=knock knock
    2=who’s there?
    1=knock knock
    2=Who’s there?
    1=knock knock
    2=I said Who’s There?
    1=Oh you were there I never knew.

    Haaaaa ha ha ha.

  20. Oh wait one more
    1= Knock knock
    2= Who’s there
    1= Lesson
    2= Lesson who
    1= Lesson 5 minutes, school will be out.
    ha ha ha
    (I love knock-knocks too much)

    • Thanks for sharing your knock-knock joke with us, Tyler! We hope you had a great time at school, but we’re glad it was less than 5 minutes until the bell rang! :)

  21. That’s really fascinating! Hey, I’ve got one:

    Knock! Knock!
    Who’s there?
    Colline who?
    Colline up your room! It’s a mess!

    (Clean up your room! It’s a mess!)

    (Laugh. Laugh.)

    • He he, you did a great job creating a knock-knock joke of your own, Momorgan! Thanks for making us chuckle and WONDERing about jokes, too! :)

    • You’ve got us chuckling, Wonder Friend Salvadore! Thanks for making up a knock-knock joke of your own! We Wonder… if Wonderopolis is at your door, is okay if we bring all our Wonder Friends?! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Who invented the knock-knock joke?
  • Do knock-knock jokes have a practical purpose?
  • Are knock-knock jokes told all over the world?

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