1. reaching the knees: knee-deep mud.
  2. submerged or covered up to the knees: knee-deep in water.
  3. deeply embroiled; enmeshed; involved: knee-deep in trouble.

Origin of knee-deep

First recorded in 1525–35 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for knee-deep

Contemporary Examples of knee-deep

Historical Examples of knee-deep

  • But the cutter slipped by and left him knee-deep, looking ruefully after them.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • It had also crept into the heading, and 280 the men who worked in it were knee-deep in water.

    The Greater Power

    Harold Bindloss

  • There they remained, knee-deep in the water, and huddled together.

    The Settlers in Canada

    Frederick Marryat

  • At some points the water was knee-deep, at others it was chin-deep.

    Stories Of Georgia

    Joel Chandler Harris

  • Now he was knee-deep in the reeds of the north shore; now he was climbing the bank.

    The Dop Doctor

    Clotilde Inez Mary Graves

British Dictionary definitions for knee-deep


  1. so deep as to reach or cover the kneesknee-deep mud
  2. (postpositive often foll by in)
    1. sunk or covered to the kneesknee-deep in sand
    2. immersed; deeply involvedknee-deep in work
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

Word Origin and History for knee-deep

1530s, from knee (n.) + deep (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper