Definition of knee in English:



  • 1The joint between the thigh and the lower leg in humans.

    • ‘Sleep on your back if possible, with knees raised on a pillow.’
    • ‘He will be out for the season after having an operation on his knee to repair cruciate ligaments.’
    • ‘Lower your left knee toward the ground, dropping your hips straight down until your right thigh is parallel with the floor.’
    • ‘Your right foot should be flat on the floor; your left knee, slightly bent.’
    • ‘The problem is a cyst in his knee which may require surgery but should not keep Mark out of action for too long.’
    • ‘She slowly got up and her knees buckled.’
    • ‘He was treated by the school's first aider for a grazed knee and bruised wrist before being sent back to continue with lessons.’
    • ‘She sat on her bed and drew her knees up under her chin.’
    • ‘He sat on the bed, hugging his knees to his chin.’
    • ‘My hands are shaking and my knees feel weak.’
    • ‘With my teeth chattering and my knees wobbling, I somehow managed to climb the steps to the second floor.’
    • ‘For instance, be sure you can extend and flex your injured knee as fully as the other one.’
    • ‘She tried to stand but found her knees too weak to support her weight.’
    • ‘I couldn't walk, and my doctor couldn't operate on my knee until I lost some weight.’
    • ‘Josiah leaned forward, his left palm resting on the corresponding knee.’
    • ‘He wore black shorts that reached down to his knees.’
    • ‘She reached across and patted his knee.’
    • ‘He hasn't played since the third preseason game because of a sprained knee.’
    • ‘In order to look good, shorts should fall a little above the knees and fit nicely around your buttocks and legs.’
    • ‘He rested on the floor on his hands and knees complaining of severe abdominal pain.’
    1. 1.1The joint in other animals that corresponds or is analogous to the human knee.
      • ‘The downward-curving bill of the bird, the small head, and the swollen knees are all accurate depictions of a wader.’
      • ‘Now during hot season, I put baby oil on my horses daily, from their knees to their hooves.’
      • ‘There is yet a further problem for the evolutionist in that the human knee is distinctly different from animal knees.’
      • ‘The elephant went on to its knees and tried to roll on top of Fay, repeatedly trying to stab him with her tusks.’
      • ‘He had exceptional conformation, very correct legs, hocks, and knees.’
    2. 1.2The upper surface of someone's thigh when they are sitting; a person's lap.
      ‘they were eating their suppers on their knees’
      • ‘His eyes continually glanced from the girl sitting opposite him to a notebook that lay on his knees.’
      • ‘The last time I saw Donald was in Labour's Scottish HQ with his constituency secretary, a pile of local constituency correspondence on his knee.’
      • ‘When she came back he was sitting with the cat curled up on his knees.’
      • ‘I can't bear eating off my knees. I need a table.’
      knee, knees, thighs
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3The part of a garment covering the knee.
      • ‘She wore tight black jeans ripped at the knees, a tight black shirt, and chunky black combat boots.’
      • ‘She wore her dark brown hair in braided pigtails with a red bandana and the knee of her overalls sported an overly large hole.’
      • ‘She was wearing badly worn jeans with holes in both knees, a white tee shirt that was much too big to be her own and a faded denim jacket with several small holes in it.’
      • ‘Slightly taper the pant leg on the inseam from the knee down and on the outer seam from the hip down.’
      • ‘I fell twice on the way home, soaking my mittens and the knees of my leggings.’
      • ‘His too-big jeans were ripped in the knees, and his tee shirt was worn into a thin fabric.’
      • ‘My jeans had a grass stain on the knee.’
      • ‘Faulkner wore jeans faded at the knees, a broad hat, and photochromic sunglasses.’
      • ‘All of her jeans were torn and ripped at the knees and hem.’
      • ‘On the evening of her disappearance, she was wearing a pink sleeveless top, blue jeans with holes in the knees, a khaki duffel coat and black trainers.’
  • 2An angled piece of wood or metal frame used to connect and support the beams and timbers of a wooden ship.

    • ‘About half way down the keel, tucked between the knees of the ship was a low crate.’
    • ‘The deck and hull are through bolted on an inward flange and structural knees and bulkheads are securely attached.’
  • 3An abrupt obtuse or approximately right-angled bend in a graph between parts where the slope varies smoothly.


  • Hit (someone) with one's knee.

    ‘she kneed him in the groin’
    • ‘Ruane fled into a working men's club in Blossom Street, and when a policeman followed him there, kneed him in the groin, causing him a sharp pain.’
    • ‘I kneed him in the stomach and when he stumbled back I kicked him.’
    • ‘PC Nick Smith tried to restrain her but she swore at him and then, when he tried to handcuff her, kneed him in the groin.’
    • ‘But eyewitnesses had earlier told the court how the youth had set upon Mr Worrell, kneeing him in the face before deliberately stabbing him in the chest.’
    • ‘Mckenna stepped forward and kneed him in the stomach.’
    • ‘He grabbed my arm, and instead of letting him kick me I kneed him in the groin.’
    • ‘I punched hard at the side of his face, and then kneed him hard in the stomach.’
    • ‘Pearl kneed him hard in the stomach giving herself a chance to get free.’
    • ‘He is accused of throwing the 37-year-old saleswoman against a wall, kneeing her in the head and striking her head on the ground.’
    • ‘And not having slept on my own for more than three weeks, I now can't seem to drop off without someone next to me hogging the duvet and kneeing me in the back.’
    • ‘But as Lloyd and his friend left the premises the victim pursued him, grabbing him by the scruff of his neck and kneeing him in the groin.’
    • ‘The last time a guy tried to do that to me, I kneed him in the groin.’


  • at one's mother's (or father's) knee

    • At an early age.

      • ‘The shop was staffed initially by her five children, who all learned the business and a service mentality at their mother's knee.’
      • ‘The ethics we practice are those that we learned at our mother's knee, so we think they are good.’
      • ‘Grant's heroine, Alix Rebick, is the inheritor of a Dresden cosmetics fortune who has spent years at her mother's knee, learning the complicated feminine rituals of beautification.’
      • ‘His love and knowledge of wine started literally at his father's knee.’
      • ‘Born in 1886 and groomed to lead the enterprise, Archie Bray had learned brickmaking at his father's knee, there absorbing the nineteenth-century practices of molding and ‘burning’ brick.’
      • ‘I remember listening to his distinctive, gravelly voice as a child at my father's knee.’
      • ‘But Alessi did not learn his trade at his mother's knee in Malta (although he fondly remembers the fabulous Maltese speciality, cheesecake-like pies called pastizzi).’
      • ‘He learned his politics at his mother's knee.’
      • ‘When I was being taught the basic values at my mother's knee I got some valuable lessons.’
      • ‘Oliver, who is 27, learnt to cook at his father's knee - his parents ran a pub - and he wanted to be a chef from an early age.’
  • bend (or bow) the (or one's) knee

    • Submit.

      ‘a country no longer willing to bend its knee to foreign powers’
      • ‘All three, and countless other journalists throughout the world, have one thing in common: they refused to bow the knee, in the face of naked threats and aggression.’
      • ‘Let yesterday prove that Londoners and Britons of all faiths and backgrounds can still see clearly who their enemies are, and refuse to bow the knee.’
      • ‘Rudolph Giuliani, who will soon be knighted by the Queen, is a man who bends the knee to nobody.’
      • ‘So the All England Club have at last bowed the knee to progress and agreed to roof the hallowed Centre Court.’
      • ‘Once again, we see how much Ross bows the knee to the scientific establishment (except when they reject his views).’
      • ‘Now we have a scramble amongst some politicians to prove themselves good Europeans and to bend the knee to nonsensical provisions coming from the EU.’
      • ‘And they despise the Good Friday agreement, which they see as bowing the knee to terrorism.’
  • bring someone/thing to their/its knees

    • Reduce someone or something to a state of weakness or submission.

      ‘the country was brought to its knees by a new strike’
      • ‘In the 80s, it was thought AIDS, poverty and crime had brought the neighbourhood to its knees, but a new generation of young Hamburgers rediscovered the music clubs, discos and bars.’
      • ‘This is the man who brought our industry to its knees with his third report.’
      • ‘But the current crisis, which began in mid-1998, has brought the nation to its knees.’
      • ‘Instead, high winds and spectacular lightning accompanied hours of heavy rains which, at times, nearly brought the city to its knees.’
      • ‘At Rangers, by contrast, manager Alex McLeish seemed doomed after a series of defeats at home brought the club to its knees.’
      • ‘We have a duty to properly investigate the people who brought the city to its knees.’
      • ‘The cost of the Commonwealth Games was £300m and it nearly brought the city to its knees until a last-minute government rescue package bailed it out.’
      • ‘Such a government could be brought to its knees within months.’
      • ‘Two decades of civil war have really brought the country to its knees.’
      • ‘The fish-farming industry was brought to its knees by some report saying that eating farmed salmon can kill you.’
  • fall (or drop, or sink, etc.) to one's knees

    • Assume a kneeling position.

      • ‘I fell to my knees and started to cry again.’
      • ‘I refrained from falling to my knees and kissing their rings, but it did cross my mind.’
      • ‘As the final shot landed wide, Ferrero fell to his knees and blew kisses to the heavens.’
      • ‘Catholics in Pope John Paul II's hometown fell to their knees and wept as the news of his death reached them last night at the end of a special mass.’
      • ‘‘I think this is the best week of my life,’ he said, an hour after falling to his knees on court.’
      • ‘And at Santo Domingo airport, relatives of passengers aboard the plane sobbed and fell to their knees in grief.’
      • ‘Contemplating my plan, I am so overcome with emotion that I suddenly feel weak and sink to my knees.’
      • ‘Edmonton was not the first time that she had crossed the world championship finishing line with arms in the air, falling to her knees to kiss the ground after a duel with Jones.’
      • ‘A student fell to his knees and prayed after a jury cleared him on attempted rape and indecent assault charges.’
      • ‘As soon as the game was over, the players expressed their joy, either by raising their arms in victory, falling to their knees or waving to fans, who cheered throughout the game.’
      fall to one's knees, get down on one's knees, genuflect, bow, bow down, make obeisance, kowtow, curtsy, show reverence, show deference
      View synonyms
  • on bended knee(s)

    • see knee
      • ‘He is one through whom the King of heaven makes his plea and implores on bended knee, with all his soul, that you be reconciled to this great King.’
      • ‘After asking her father's permission, he got down on bended knee at the top of the Eiffel Tower and presented her with a diamond engagement ring.’
      • ‘Before the start of the race yesterday afternoon he went down on bended knee and - witnessed by hundreds of punters - asked Wendy to spend the rest of her life with him.’
      • ‘Going to the U.N. on bended knee to get official U.N. sanction and peacekeeping support is one answer.’
      • ‘It was in the year of forty three when George and Elizabeth took their vows on bended knees.’
      • ‘Whether Galileo was actually tortured or merely threatened with torture by the Inquisition is still a matter of conjecture but the fact remains that he was forced to recant his scientific findings on bended knee.’
      • ‘The 60-year-old singer got down on bended knee, popped the question and produced a diamond engagement ring at the Eiffel Tower during a romantic break in Paris.’
      • ‘‘I want you all to know that the nation this day is on bended knee in prayer for the people whose lives were lost here, the workers who work here, for the families,’ he said.’
      • ‘They had screamed for mercy on bended knees but to no avail.’
      • ‘I wish my future fiance would propose to me on bended knee, in a location that's special to both of us, preferably with us both dressed up.’
      • ‘Being the gentleman he is Tom even went down on bended knee to propose to his bride-to-be.’
      • ‘Those responsible should be begging for forgiveness on bended knees instead of behaving in this way.’
      • ‘‘I begged him on bended knee to give me a job, although he kept saying he couldn't afford to employ anyone,’ she recalls.’
      • ‘He said he would ask council on bended knee to delay the move until a permanent site could be found.’
      • ‘MPs have to swear allegiance to the Queen before they can take their seats, while those joining the privy council - a requirement for all cabinet ministers - have to do so in person, on bended knee, before the Queen herself.’
      • ‘Tom, a photographer and residential developer, made the proposal on bended knee in the sand at sunset with turquoise waters lapping the beach.’
      • ‘During plague, drought and famine, he will appear before her throne on bended knee and plead for her forgiveness.’
      • ‘Don't vary the amount or be tempted to give advances even if they come to you on bended knees.’
      • ‘I've known him for two and a half years and he proposed to me on bended knee, at his mother's house.’
      • ‘For now I'm going to get a nice light dinner on the table, open a bottle of wine and spend the rest of the evening with Mark. 16 years ago today he got down on bended knee and asked me to marry him.’
    • Kneeling, especially when pleading or showing great respect.

      ‘did your guy propose on bended knee?’
      • ‘Those responsible should be begging for forgiveness on bended knees instead of behaving in this way.’
      • ‘Before the start of the race yesterday afternoon he went down on bended knee and - witnessed by hundreds of punters - asked Wendy to spend the rest of her life with him.’
      • ‘I begged him on bended knee to give me a job, although he kept saying he couldn't afford to employ anyone.’
      • ‘After asking her father Graham's permission, he got down on bended knee at the top of the Eiffel Tower and presented her with a diamond engagement ring.’
  • on one's knees

    • 1In a kneeling position.

      • ‘I was on my knees as I said these things, kneeling near the end of my bed with my hands joined in a vague approximation of a person praying.’
      • ‘If you have to get down on your knees, try kneeling on one knee and then switching to the other one every minute to minimize the pressure and disperse it.’
      • ‘The morning found me on my knees in front of the coal furnace trying to understand why the fire kept going out.’
      • ‘She said, ‘Get down on your knees and pray to God.’’
      • ‘When I came to my senses again, I was on my knees with JD kneeling beside me.’
      1. 1.1On the verge of collapse.
        ‘when they took over, the newspaper was on its knees’
        • ‘Self-catering has its good points but when you are on your knees with exhaustion and badly need to be spoiled, indulged and treated like a princess, it's hard to remember exactly what they are.’
        • ‘At a time when most of the global economy is on its knees, Chinese exports have rocketed by 20% so far this year.’
        • ‘They say that one of the best times to invest in a blue chip firm is when the company is on its knees.’
        • ‘They have a tremendous manager in Blackwell, who has admitted that he would not have had a sniff of the job if the club had not been on their knees.’
  • weak at the knees

    • Overcome by a strong feeling, typically desire.

      • ‘His sun-kissed skin and stubble make the iciest of women weak at the knees.’
      • ‘Of course, I never met the lady in person - an experience that could apparently make strong men go weak at the knees.’
      • ‘Almost every foodie I have ever met goes weak at the knees at the mere mention of white truffles.’
      faint, dizzy, light-headed, giddy, shaky
      weak-kneed, wobbly, quivery, unsteady, groggy, muzzy
      trembly, all of a tremble, all of a quiver, with rubbery legs, woozy
      View synonyms


Old English cnēow, cnēo, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch knie and German Knie, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin genu and Greek gonu.