[ nee ]
See synonyms for knee on
  1. Anatomy. the joint of the leg that allows for movement between the femur and tibia and is protected by the patella; the central area of the leg between the thigh and the lower leg.

  2. Zoology. the corresponding joint or region in the hind leg of a quadruped; stifle.

  1. a joint or region likened to this but not anatomically homologous with it, as the tarsal joint of a bird, the carpal joint in the forelimb of the horse or cow, etc.

  2. the part of a garment covering the knee.

  3. something resembling a bent knee, especially a rigid or braced angle between two framing members.

  4. Also called hip, shoulder. Furniture. the inward curve toward the top of a cabriole leg.

  5. Building Trades.

    • the junction of the top and either of the uprights of a bent.

    • a curved member for reinforcing the junction of two pieces meeting at an angle.

  6. Also called kneeler. a stone cut to follow a sharp return angle.

verb (used with object),kneed, knee·ing.
  1. to strike or touch with the knee.

  2. to secure (a structure, as a bent) with a knee.

verb (used without object),kneed, knee·ing.
  1. Obsolete. to go down on the knees; kneel.

Idioms about knee

  1. bring someone to his / her knees, to force someone into submission or compliance.

  2. cut (someone) off at the knees, to squelch or humiliate (a person) suddenly and thoroughly: The speaker cut the heckler off at the knees.

  1. on one's / its knees,

    • in a supplicatory position or manner: I came to him on my knees for the money.

    • in a desperate or declining condition: The country's economy is on its knees.

  2. take a knee, to kneel on one knee, usually with the opposite leg also bent at a 90-degree angle and placed forward with the foot on the ground, as in sports or as a posture in protests and demonstrations: Our soccer team would take a knee if a player on either team was injured.Organizers are coordinating so the crowds at every state capitol will take a knee in protest of racial injustice simultaneously, across time zones.

Origin of knee

First recorded before 900; Middle English kne, cne, knei, cneo, Old English cnēo(w); cognate with German Knie, Dutch knie, Old Norse knē, Gothic kniu, Latin genu, Greek góny, Sanskrit jānu, Hittite genu, all meaning “knee”

Words Nearby knee Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use knee in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for knee


/ (niː) /

  1. the joint of the human leg connecting the tibia and fibula with the femur and protected in front by the patella: Technical name: genu Related adjective: genicular

    • the area surrounding and above this joint

    • (modifier) reaching or covering the knee: knee breeches; knee socks

  1. a corresponding or similar part in other vertebrates

  2. the part of a garment that covers the knee

  3. the upper surface of a seated person's thigh: the child sat on her mother's knee

  4. anything resembling a knee in action, such as a device pivoted to allow one member angular movement in relation to another

  5. anything resembling a knee in shape, such as an angular bend in a pipe

  6. any of the hollow rounded protuberances that project upwards from the roots of the swamp cypress: thought to aid respiration in waterlogged soil

  7. bend the knee or bow the knee to kneel or submit

  8. bring someone to his knees to force someone into submission

  9. bring something to its knees to cause something to be in a weakened or impoverished state

verbknees, kneeing or kneed
  1. (tr) to strike, nudge, or push with the knee

Origin of knee

Old English cnēow; compare Old High German kneo, Old Norse knē, Latin genu

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with knee


In addition to the idiom beginning with knee

, also see

  • bring to one's knees
  • on bended knee


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.