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[nahyf] /naɪf/
noun, plural knives
[nahyvz] /naɪvz/ (Show IPA)
an instrument for cutting, consisting essentially of a thin, sharp-edged, metal blade fitted with a handle.
a knifelike weapon; dagger or short sword.
any blade for cutting, as in a tool or machine.
verb (used with object), knifed, knifing.
to apply a knife to; cut, stab, etc., with a knife.
to attempt to defeat or undermine in a secret or underhanded way.
verb (used without object), knifed, knifing.
to move or cleave through something with or as if with a knife:
The ship knifed through the heavy seas.
under the knife, in surgery; undergoing a medical operation:
The patient was under the knife for four hours.
Origin of knife
before 1100; Middle English knif, Old English cnīf; cognate with Dutch knijf, German Kneif, Old Norse knīfr
Related forms
knifelike, adjective
knifer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for knifing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He held his breath, awaiting the knifing pain it seemed natural to expect.

    Flamedown Horace Brown Fyfe
  • The man she had killed was in the act of knifing Raft in the back.

    The Beach of Dreams H. De Vere Stacpoole
  • If the knifing business were to occur before the finding, it would help some!

    In Her Own Right

    John Reed Scott
  • He arrived only just in time, the men were in the act of knifing him.

    Under the Rebel's Reign Charles Neufeld
  • Men were clasping hands, buying and selling, knifing and shooting.

    The Road Builders Samuel Merwin
  • "I like not knifing a man when the blood is cold in me," Simon answered.

    Vayenne Percy Brebner
  • He toyed with the trigger, knifing the room with quick side glances.

  • I have a hold on every man beneath me that prevents him from knifing me in the back.

    No Shield from the Dead Gordon Rupert Dickson
  • Then, knifing the higher and higher waves, she made a dash for it.

    The Missourian

    Eugene P. (Eugene Percy) Lyle
British Dictionary definitions for knifing


noun (pl) knives (naɪvz)
a cutting instrument consisting of a sharp-edged often pointed blade of metal fitted into a handle or onto a machine
a similar instrument used as a weapon
have one's knife in someone, to have a grudge against or victimize someone
twist the knife, to make a bad situation worse in a deliberately malicious way
(Brit) the knives are out for someone, people are determined to harm or put a stop to someone: the knives are out for Stevens
under the knife, undergoing a surgical operation
verb (transitive)
to cut, stab, or kill with a knife
to betray, injure, or depose in an underhand way
Derived Forms
knifelike, adjective
knifer, noun
Word Origin
Old English cnīf; related to Old Norse knīfr, Middle Low German knīf
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 knifing



late Old English cnif, probably from Old Norse knifr, from Proto-Germanic *knibaz (cf. Middle Low German knif, Middle Dutch cnijf, German kneif), of uncertain origin. To further confuse the etymology, there also are forms in -p-, e.g. Dutch knijp, German kneip. French canif "penknife" (mid-15c.) is borrowed from Middle English or Norse.



1865, from knife (n.). Related: Knifed; knifing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with knifing
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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