"descendant of Dutch settlers of New York," 1831, from Diedrich Knickerbocker, the name under which Washington Irving published his popular "History of New York" (1809). The pen-name was borrowed from Irving's friend Herman Knickerbocker, and literally means "toy marble-baker," from German knicker, schoolboy slang for "marble," apparently an agent-noun from the imitative verb knikken "to snap."

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