knee·​cap | \ ˈnē-ˌkap How to pronounce kneecap (audio) \
plural kneecaps

Definition of kneecap

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a thick flat triangular movable bone that forms the anterior point of the knee and protects the front of the joint : patella … [Richard] Steadman did arthroscopic surgery on both knees, taking out cartilage, and adjusting synovial plica, the bands of thickened tissue that line the joint behind the kneecaps— William Oscar Johnson Many people who play basketball, volleyball, or soccer are all too familiar with patellar tendinitis, an inflammation of the large tendon connecting the kneecap to the upper tibia.— Andrew Weil The stifle joint of a horse corresponds to the human knee. It has a patella, or kneecap, at the front of the joint.— Robert M. Miller


kneecapped; kneecapping; kneecaps

Definition of kneecap (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to shoot or otherwise maim or cripple the knee of (someone) He was shot in both knees, deliberately maimed—"kneecapped," in local parlance.— Francis X. Clines … punishing petty crooks and unruly juveniles by kneecapping them, sometimes with bullets, sometimes with a … power drill. The degree of crippling one receives is supposed to be a reflection of the gravity of one's crime.— Bill Barich often used figuratively… hearing from people who grasp their brows in dire concern over whether the President is now too damaged to carry on—this from people who have been doing their … best to kneecap the man for years.— Molly IvinsThis 66-yard scoring drive Smith engineered late in the first half … basically kneecapped the home team.— Austin MurphyThe decision to liquidate $25 million worth of the band's Live Nation stock last year nearly kneecapped the company …— Steve Kandell

Examples of kneecap in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun When the hips are weak, the thigh bone loses its stability and moves underneath the kneecap. Amy Marturana Winderl, SELF, "5 Running Injuries Every New Runner Should Know About," 31 Aug. 2020 Rocket Watts has a bone bruise near his kneecap and sat out practice five days before Wednesday’s opener, Izzo said. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State basketball at Notre Dame: Scouting report, prediction," 27 Nov. 2020 There were two deep punctures behind the kneecap, with blood pouring out. oregonlive, "He survived a horrific plane crash in the jungle -- then the enemy came for him: An untold World War II story of survival," 14 Oct. 2020 Blanco’s ACL will be reconstructed using a graft — pulling a segment of tissue from either a cadaver, his kneecap tendon or his hamstring tendon, with the hamstring method the more popular choice. Colin Hoobler, oregonlive, "Portland Timbers' Sebastian Blanco faces tough rehab from knee injury," 11 Sep. 2020 The 2020-21 season now is official after Carmody suffered a fractured kneecap according to two sources close to the program. Tom Noie, The Indianapolis Star, "Notre Dame G Robby Carmody fractures kneecap, out until December," 22 Sep. 2020 In an interview on Apple Music Hits' The Estelle Show Thursday (Sept. 17), LaBelle recapped how her right heel landed smack on her kneecap for an unforgettable moment. Heran Mamo, Billboard, "Patti LaBelle Talks Shoe Flying 'Over the Rainbow' & Hitting Her During 'Verzuz' Battle With Gladys Knight," 17 Sep. 2020 For example, runners tend to develop patellofemoral pain syndrome (known as runner’s knee), which causes a dull, achy pain in the kneecap when running uphill or going downstairs, as SELF previously reported. Amy Marturana Winderl, SELF, "The 7 Best Stretches for Knee Pain," 16 Sep. 2020 The 6-3, 230-pound Simon played in 10 games mostly on special teams last season before dislocating his right kneecap. Tyler James, The Indianapolis Star, "ND football notebook: Shaun Crawford, LB rotation, new CB, walk-ons and more," 9 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'kneecap.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of kneecap


1833, in the meaning defined above


1974, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for kneecap

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The first known use of kneecap was in 1833

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Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Kneecap.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for kneecap


How to pronounce kneecap (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of kneecap

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a flat bone on the front of your knee



English Language Learners Definition of kneecap (Entry 2 of 2)

: to shoot or break the knee of (someone) as a form of attack or punishment


knee·​cap | \ ˈnē-ˌkap How to pronounce kneecap (audio) \

Kids Definition of kneecap

: a thick flat movable bone forming the front part of the knee


knee·​cap | \ ˈnē-ˌkap How to pronounce kneecap (audio) \

Medical Definition of kneecap

More from Merriam-Webster on kneecap

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for kneecap

Nglish: Translation of kneecap for Spanish Speakers

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