A knob is a rounded hill, a prominent, isolated, rounded mound or knoll. Knobs are a familiar landform to people in the South and Midwest. They are usually smaller than neighboring mountains, less angular than buttes, and more symmetrical than hills. George R. Stewart, in his book Names on the Land, says early English settlers had no word “for a mountain standing up sharply by itself,” so they used the word knob (from Middle Low German knubbe, meaning “knot” or “bud”). Knobs are formed by the weathering of sandstone or granite, both of which tend to erode into rounded forms. The soil between knobs is usually quite fertile. In the Ozarks, a knob crested with open, grassy glades is known as a bald knob. Bald knobs are also found in the Appalachians, which persist as grassy meadows in otherwise forested terrain. Cherokee Indians used such high, open locations as lookout posts to guard against raids by rival tribes.

Conger Beasley, Jr.