From Middle English knelen, knewlen, from Old English cnēowlian (“to kneel”), equivalent to knee + -le. Cognate with Dutch knielen (“to kneel”), Low German knelen (“to kneel”), German dialectal knielen, kneulen, knülen (“to kneel”), Danish knæle (“to kneel”).
- (intransitive) To stoop down and rest on the knee or knees.
1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter III, in The Younger Set (Project Gutenberg; EBook #14852), New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, published 1 February 2005 (Project Gutenberg version), OCLC 24962326:
- When the flames at last began to flicker and subside, his lids fluttered, then drooped ; but he had lost all reckoning of time when he opened them again to find Miss Erroll in furs kneeling on the hearth and heaping kindling on the coals, and her pretty little Alsatian maid beside her, laying a log across the andirons.
- kneel in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
- kneel in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913