verb (used with object), knee·capped, knee·cap·ping.
  1. 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. 2018

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


  1. anatomy a nontechnical name for patella
  2. another word for poleyn
verb -caps, -capping or -capped (tr)
  1. (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


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

kneecap in Science


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