knife

noun, often attributive
\ ˈnīf How to pronounce knife (audio) \
plural knives\ ˈnīvz How to pronounce knives (audio) \

Definition of knife

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a cutting instrument consisting of a sharp blade fastened to a handle
b : a weapon or tool resembling a knife
2 : a sharp cutting blade or tool in a machine
3 : surgery sense 4 usually used in the phrase under the knife

knife

verb
knifed; knifing

Definition of knife (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to use a knife on specifically : to stab, slash, or wound with a knife
2 : to cut, mark, or spread with a knife
3 : to try to defeat by underhanded means
4 : to move like a knife in birds knifing the autumn sky

intransitive verb

: to cut a way with or as if with a knife blade the cruiser knifed through the heavy seas

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from knife

Noun

knifelike \ ˈnīf-​ˌlīk How to pronounce knifelike (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for knife

Synonyms: Noun

blade, cutter, shank [slang], shiv [slang]

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of knife in a Sentence

Noun

Each dinner guest gets two forks, a knife, and a spoon. He pulled a knife on me and threatened to stab me with it.

Verb

He died after being knifed in the chest. ships knifing through the waves
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Since fleeing China and obtaining residency in Canada, where he was resettled by the U.N., Yang Wei, 49, has been arrested multiple times for offenses including possession of a knife and aggravated assault. Hillary Leung, Time, "Canada Deported a Chinese Dissident With a Criminal Past. Critics Worry He'll Face Jail Upon Return," 29 Aug. 2019 Most of the knives at Coutelier are from multigenerational master Japanese bladesmiths, including famed knifemakers Moritaka, Takeda, and Takamura, with whom the couple has cultivated close working relationships over years of forge visits. Buddy Kite, Bon Appétit, "Coutelier Is the Cutlery Shop of Our Dreams," 27 Aug. 2019 Those who attend will learn combatives, the use of a knife in defense, close quarters shooting with rifle and pistol and how to work effectively in teams of 2, 3 and 4. Chad Sokol, The Seattle Times, "Leaked emails show Washington state Rep. Matt Shea endorsed training children to fight in holy war," 15 Aug. 2019 And while politicians of both parties argue endlessly about how many devils can fit on the edge of a knife, America knows there are more of them out there, waiting to pop. John Kass, Twin Cities, "John Kass: Weaponizing the dead of El Paso and Dayton," 9 Aug. 2019 In one early-season scene, Rue (show lead Zendaya), who is a recovering addict, is forced to lick liquid fentanyl off of a knife by a sinister drug dealer. Jason Parham, WIRED, "In Praise of Euphoria, the Perfect Anti-Binge TV Show," 6 Aug. 2019 At his arraignment Tuesday in Vista Superior Court, the 27-year-old pleaded not guilty to murder and use of a knife. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Prosecutor: Oceanside father stabbed 7-year-old daughter about 10 times," 6 Aug. 2019 Working over a bowl, cut kernels off cobs and use back of knife to scrape any remaining bits of kernels and juices. Discard cobs. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Chilled Corn Soup," 1 Aug. 2019 Seven were being held on misdemeanors, including possession of a knife and criminal threats, and the rest were awaiting hearings on felony charges. Joaquin Palomino, SFChronicle.com, "Facing rising costs per youth, San Mateo County considers future of juvenile hall," 25 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

These days, just knifing through the clutter is surely worth something. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'The Brady Bunch' and 'BH90210' test the limits of nostalgia," 9 Sep. 2019 Jordan Glasgow, who started at weakside linebacker after a move from the hybrid Viper position, knifed into the backfield for two sacks. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football's new offense shines, despite sloppiness, in 40-21 win over MTSU," 31 Aug. 2019 Defensive end Arden Key had a good sequence on consecutive snaps in the latter, coming into the backfield clean to stop a handoff to Jalen Richard and then knifing in from what appeared to be an interior position. Matt Kawahara, SFChronicle.com, "Raiders practice report: ‘A good competition’ at punter," 1 Aug. 2019 On Saturday against the Rams, Purcell knifed through the interior to tackle running back Justin Davis for a 2-yard loss in the fourth quarter. Kyle Fredrickson, The Denver Post, "Broncos’ DeShawn Williams, Mike Purcell pushing through roster bubble," 26 Aug. 2019 The sharp peal of a bell knifes through loud gunfire. Gieson Cacho, The Mercury News, "Review: Logitech G Pro X is a complete package for gamers," 22 Aug. 2019 During a news conference, the commander provided some of the first details about the encounter early Friday in which Deputy Brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega, 35, was knifed 11 times. Washington Post, "Italy: Slain police officer didn’t have gun when stabbed," 31 July 2019 Investigators allege Elder knifed the policeman during a struggle after Cerciello Rega and his partner, both plainclothes officers, identified themselves as police. CBS News, "American teen held in Italian officer's deadly stabbing may have been blindfolded by police during interrogation," 28 July 2019 Investigators allege Elder knifed the policeman during a struggle after Cerciello Rega and his partner, both plainclothes officers, identified themselves as police. Frances D'emilio, Houston Chronicle, "Italy: Teen held in officer's death 'illegally blindfolded'," 28 July 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of knife

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1865, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for knife

Noun

Middle English knif, from Old English cnīf, perhaps from Old Norse knīfr; akin to Middle Low German knīf knife

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about knife

Statistics for knife

Last Updated

12 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for knife

The first known use of knife was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for knife

knife

noun

English Language Learners Definition of knife

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a usually sharp blade attached to a handle that is used for cutting or as a weapon

knife

verb

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

: to injure (someone) with a knife
: to move easily and quickly like a knife cutting through something

knife

noun
\ ˈnīf How to pronounce knife (audio) \
plural knives\ ˈnīvz \

Kids Definition of knife

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a cutting instrument consisting of a sharp blade fastened to a handle
2 : a cutting blade in a machine

knife

verb
knifes; knifed; knifing

Kids Definition of knife (Entry 2 of 2)

: to stab, slash, or wound with a knife

knife

noun
\ ˈnīf How to pronounce knife (audio) \
plural knives\ ˈnīvz How to pronounce knives (audio) \

Medical Definition of knife

1 : any of various instruments used in surgery primarily to sever tissues: as
a : a cutting instrument consisting of a sharp blade attached to a handle
b : an instrument that cuts by means of an electric current
2 : surgery sense 3 usually used in the phrase under the knife went under the knife yesterday was afraid of the knife

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on knife

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with knife

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for knife

Spanish Central: Translation of knife

Nglish: Translation of knife for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of knife for Arabic Speakers

Comments on knife

What made you want to look up knife? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a bell tower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!