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[nee-kap] /ˈniˌkæp/
the patella.
a protective covering, usually knitted, for the knee.
verb (used with object), kneecapped, kneecapping.
to cripple (a person) by shooting in the knee:
Terrorists were kneecapping prospective jurors.
Origin of kneecap
First recorded in 1650-60; knee + cap1
Related forms
kneecapper, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for kneecap
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His elevation above the valley was about the kneecap of the Generoso.

  • From her perch on my kneecap Red said, coolly, "Don't you dare try that again."

    The Animated Pinup Lewis Parker
  • Red turned away in disgust to leap from my kneecap to Willy's.

    The Animated Pinup Lewis Parker
  • The trappers entertain a superstitious notion, which leads them to remove a kneecap from each beaver and throw it into the fire.

    The Desert World Arthur Mangin
  • In the action I saw that his leg pained him, for he bent it suddenly and put his hand on the kneecap.

    The Other Fellow F. Hopkinson Smith
  • The sun crept up his leg and his kneecap began to prickle pleasantly under the linen trousers.

    Beginners Luck Emily Hahn
British Dictionary definitions for kneecap


(anatomy) a nontechnical name for patella
another word for poleyn
verb (transitive) -caps, -capping, -capped
(esp of certain terrorist groups) to shoot (a person) in the kneecap, esp as an act of retaliation
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for kneecap

1650s, "a covering or protection for the knee," from knee (n.) + cap (n.). Meaning "bone in front of the knee joint" is from 1869; the verb in the underworld sense of "to shoot (someone) in the knee" as punishment is attested by 1975. Related: Kneecapped.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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kneecap in Medicine

kneecap knee·cap (nē'kāp')
See patella.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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kneecap in Science
See patella.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for kneecap



  1. To shoot someone in the kneecap or legs: There was another drive-by and one of the deacons got kneecapped
  2. To disable as if by kneecapping: The law-and-order issue, which Republicans have used for a generation to kneecap Democrats at will, has been coopted (1975+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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