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See more synonyms for knives on Thesaurus.com
  1. plural of knife.
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noun, plural knives [nahyvz] /naɪvz/.
  1. an instrument for cutting, consisting essentially of a thin, sharp-edged, metal blade fitted with a handle.
  2. a knifelike weapon; dagger or short sword.
  3. any blade for cutting, as in a tool or machine.
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verb (used with object), knifed, knif·ing.
  1. to apply a knife to; cut, stab, etc., with a knife.
  2. to attempt to defeat or undermine in a secret or underhanded way.
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verb (used without object), knifed, knif·ing.
  1. to move or cleave through something with or as if with a knife: The ship knifed through the heavy seas.
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  1. under the knife, in surgery; undergoing a medical operation: The patient was under the knife for four hours.
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Origin of knife

before 1100; Middle English knif, Old English cnīf; cognate with Dutch knijf, German Kneif, Old Norse knīfr
Related formsknife·like, adjectiveknif·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for knives

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He made signs for me to give him the knife, but I could not, as we were very short of knives.

  • Then she picked one of the knives from the bucket and handed it to him.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • Here my mistress met me with a double allowance of knives to clean.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • The arms of the pale faces are long, and their knives sharp!

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Why should they brighten their tomahawks and sharpen their knives against each other?

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

British Dictionary definitions for knives


  1. the plural of knife
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noun plural knives (naɪvz)
  1. a cutting instrument consisting of a sharp-edged often pointed blade of metal fitted into a handle or onto a machine
  2. a similar instrument used as a weapon
  3. have one's knife in someone to have a grudge against or victimize someone
  4. twist the knife to make a bad situation worse in a deliberately malicious way
  5. the knives are out for someone British people are determined to harm or put a stop to someonethe knives are out for Stevens
  6. under the knife undergoing a surgical operation
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verb (tr)
  1. to cut, stab, or kill with a knife
  2. to betray, injure, or depose in an underhand way
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Derived Formsknifelike, adjectiveknifer, 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

Word Origin and History for knives



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.

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with knives


see at gunpoint (knifepoint); under the knife; you could cut it with a knife.

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