knelt ˈnelt How to pronounce kneel (audio) or kneeled; kneeling

intransitive verb

: to position the body so that one or both knees rest on the floor
The prisoners were ordered to kneel.
: to fall or rest on the knees
She kneeled on the floor next to the child.

Examples of kneel in a Sentence

She was kneeling on the floor beside her child. He was kneeling in front of the altar and praying.
Recent Examples on the Web Chauvin, who was seen on a video that prompted riots around the country, knelt on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes leading up to his death. Michael Ruiz, Fox News, 4 Dec. 2023 California Fearing bad publicity, LASD covered up case of deputy who knelt on inmate’s head March 26, 2022 Advertisement Both Gascón and his chief of staff, Joseph Iniguez, were present for the meeting and approved of her decision, according to the suit. James Queally, Los Angeles Times, 20 Nov. 2023 But as his employees knelt for their afternoon prayers, Awdeh, the restaurant owner, said one way or another his neighbors will have to find a way to get along. Tim Craig, Washington Post, 12 Nov. 2023 The Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star posted several photos of him kneeling on a boat with his friends and girlfriend, and another standing on crutches. Alexis Jones, Peoplemag, 1 Nov. 2023 No other man in that period would kneel before his wife or walk two feet behind her. Stephanie Petit, Peoplemag, 15 Nov. 2023 Gaillard knelt at the edge of his field, where a white crust covered the ground. Ian James, Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2023 As his coffin was driven to the church, local residents knelt in the puddles that pooled along the roadside. Megan Specia, New York Times, 29 Oct. 2023 The choir was in the chancel right next to the Communion rail, and a lady knelt for Communion, then couldn’t get back up. Jacobina Martin, Washington Post, 17 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'kneel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English knelen, from Old English cnēowlian; akin to Old English cnēow knee

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of kneel was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near kneel

Cite this Entry

“Kneel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


knelt ˈnelt How to pronounce kneel (audio) or kneeled
; kneeling
: to bend the knee : support oneself on the knees
kneeler noun

More from Merriam-Webster on kneel

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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