from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To mix and work into a uniform mass, as by folding, pressing, and stretching with the hands: kneading dough.
  • transitive v. To make or shape by or as if by folding, pressing, and stretching with the hands.
  • transitive v. To squeeze, press, or roll with the hands, as in massaging: kneading a painful calf muscle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To work and press into a mass, usually with the hands; especially, to work, as by repeated pressure with the knuckles, into a well mixed mass, the materials of bread, cake, etc.
  • v. To treat or form as if by kneading; to beat.
  • v. To make an alternating pressing motion with the two front paws.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To perform movements like kneading, with the paws; -- said of cats, which may knead{3} a master's body when stroked, presumably a sign of contentment.
  • transitive v. To work and press into a mass, usually with the hands; esp., to work, as by repeated pressure with the knuckles, into a well mixed mass, as the materials of bread, cake, etc..
  • transitive v. Fig.: To treat or form as by kneading; to beat.
  • transitive v. To press repeatedly with the hands or knuckles, sometimes with a twisting or squeezing motion; -- performed for example on the body of a person as a form of massage.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To manipulate by squeezing, pressing, or thumping different parts of; work upon by successive thumps or compressions: as, to knead a person's limbs in the operation of massage.
  • Specifically To work upon, as plastic materials, by repeatedly pressing or squeezing; prepare or mix by working over and over with the hands or by tools or machinery, as dough for bread or clay for bricks.
  • Hence To mix thoroughly; incorporate; form into a homogeneous compound.
  • To make by kneading.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. make uniform
  • v. manually manipulate (someone's body), usually for medicinal or relaxation purposes


Middle English kneden, from Old English cnedan.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English kneden, from Old English cnedan, from Proto-Germanic *knedanan, from Proto-Indo-European *gnet- ‘to press together’ (cf. Old Prussian gnode ‘kneading trough’, Albanian ngjesh, Slovenian gnésti ‘to knead, press’), from *gen- ‘to ball up, pinch, compress’. (Wiktionary)


  • The word knead comes from an Indo-European root meaning “to compress into a ball”; related words are gnocchi, quenelle, knoll, and knuckle.

    On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen

  • The word "knead" is a misnomer, however, as the action of folding and pushing biscuit dough is a far more delicate technique: Pull the dough over itself from the far side, making a double layer, and then, with the palm of your hand, push the dough forward with only the lightest pressure, to smear some of the small butter pieces in the dough.

    Buttermilk Biscuits | Vélez Delights

  • Working on a cool, smooth surface, "knead" it a bit with a spatula until it has the thickness and texture of fudge.

    Sweet treats from Mexico: Los dulces

  • Neri Ame, lit. "liquid candy" that you apply to the included chopsticks then "knead" it until it turns solid.

    Anime Nano!

  • Although, if you feel the "knead" for a work out, you could certainly prepare the dough by hand.

    Culinary in the Desert

  • Its PIE root is *mag-, meaning not only “to make” but also “to knead” or “to mix.”

    The English Is Coming!

  • These are from Old English words classified as “native” because they were inherited directly from a Germanic root—in this case one meaning “knead together,” with emphasis on the blending effect of kneading.

    The English Is Coming!

  • From the Hellenic branch, English took other words derived from the same root: one is Ancient Greek magma, “molten rock”; another is mass, a “kneaded” lump of barley cake, from the Greek massein, “to knead.”

    The English Is Coming!

  • Derived from the Hindi word chāmpo, a verbal form meaning “to knead” or “to press” as well as “the kneading” or “the pressing,” the English word shampooing described what struck seventeenth-and eighteenth-century Western observers as exotic bodily manipulations performed in the East.

    The English Is Coming!

  • Other expressions of the “knead” root entered English later, and from other languages.

    The English Is Coming!


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  • JM reckons bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.

    May 25, 2011