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See also: knee-cap and knee cap



knee +‎ cap


  • IPA(key): /ˈniːˌkæp/, enPR: nē'kăp
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːkæp


kneecap (plural kneecaps)

  1. (anatomy) The flat, roundish bone in the knee.
    Synonyms: kneepan, patella, rotula, scutum
  2. (roofing) A metal cover trim that fits over a panel rib after it has been cut and bent.
  3. A cap or strong covering for the knees, used chiefly for horses, to protect their knees in case of a fall.



kneecap (third-person singular simple present kneecaps, present participle kneecapping, simple past and past participle kneecapped)

  1. (transitive) To destroy the knees of (a person), usually by shooting at the knees, as a punishment carried out by criminals or terrorists.
    • 2020, Liam Kennedy, Who Was Responsible for the Troubles?, McGill-Queen's Press, →ISBN, page 109:
      The Sinn Féin press officer Richard McAuley freely admitted, “Back four or five years ago, people were getting kneecapped who should not have been kneecapped.”
  2. (transitive, figurative, by extension) To attack (someone) in a way that is excessively and needlessly damaging: To cut (someone) off at the knees.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The literal sense of this term is considered a misnomer by medical professionals because only a very small minority of victims suffer damage to the kneecap.

Related terms[edit]