Need vs. Kneed

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Need and kneed are commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. We will examine the different meanings of the homophonic words need and kneed, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

Need may be used as a verb to mean to lack something, to be in want of something, to require something. Need may be used as a noun to mean the state of feeling the lack of something, the state of requiring help, something that is lacked or something that is required. Related words are needs, needed, needing, needy. The word need is derived from the Old English word, neodian, which means require or need.

Kneed is the past tense of the verb knee, which simply means to hit someone with one’s knee. Related words are knees, kneeing. Kneeing someone in a vulnerable area is a good method of defense for victims who are generally weaker than their attacker. Until the 1800s, the verb knee meant to kneel; by the 1890s, the verb knee came to mean to strike someone with one’s knee.


To calculate the percentage of people who need to be immune from a virus in order to reach herd immunity, all you have to know is the virus’ basic reproduction number — its R0 (pronounced R-naught). (Colorado Sun)

“Alert level 3 was effective in containing the August outbreak, but it’s likely we would need to use level 4 to have the same effect on the new variant.” (New Zealand Herald)

During the interrogation the cyclist maintained his claim that he had not kneed the girl on purpose and the he did not know that he had hit her, according to Clérin. (Brussels Times)

A former North Las Vegas police officer charged with battery kneed a suspect in the face after the man was in handcuffs, breaking the man’s jaw, according to an arrest report. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

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