the patella.
a protective covering, usually knitted, for the knee.

verb (used with object), knee·capped, knee·cap·ping.

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 formsknee·cap·per, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for kneecap

Contemporary Examples of kneecap

Historical Examples of kneecap

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for kneecap



anatomy a nontechnical name for patella
another word for poleyn

verb -caps, -capping or -capped (tr)

(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

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

kneecap in Medicine




The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

kneecap in Science



See patella.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.