A partucularly unplesant form of whip, formerly used in Russia
To quote the encyclopaedia britannica
"The Russian knout, consisting of a number of dried and hardened thongs of rawhide interwoven with wire—the wires often being hooked and sharpened so that they tore the flesh"
Pear's cyclopaedia adds that it was usually fatal in it's effects. ABout 100-120 strokes would be fatal for an ordianry knout, but for the great knout , only a fith of that figure would produce the same effects
Origin: Russian knut, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse knūtr knot; akin to Old English cnotta. And most place the first uses of the word sometime circa 1700 (in the English language, I assume) which seems a little late.
(At least according to most of the sources I have had a chance to wander through)