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Is it Kneeled or Knelt? (Spelling, Differences & Examples)

Kneeled or knelt?

Kneeled and knelt are both past tense spellings of the verb kneel, which describes “being in or moving into a position where your body is supported on your knee or knees”.

Kneeled vs. Knelt (UK vs. US English)

The spelling form of the past tense of ‘kneel’ varies on whether you’re using UK English or US English conventions:

  • UK English spells “knelt” without “ed” at the end (prefers the irregular verb form).

  • US English spells “kneeled” with the “ed” (uses the standard verb conjugation).

Other US English and UK English differences

Common spelling differences between UK and US English are apparent across many words and spelling patterns:

Words with -our/-or:

UK EnglishUS English
favour and favouritefavor and favorite

Words ending in -er and -re:

  • (UK spelling) centre, metre, fibre, theatre.

  • (US spelling) center, meter, fiber, theater.

Words ending in -ce and -se:

  • (UK spelling) defence, offence, licence.

  • (US spelling) defense, offense, license.

Verbs with one L or two L’s:

  • (UK spelling) travelled, modelled, labelled, cancelled.

  • (US spelling) traveled, modeled, labeled, canceled.

Other words like knelt/kneeled

Generally speaking, American or US English prefers the standard verb conjugation to the past tense, which uses “ed”.

UK English prefers an irregular verb form, and the older English writing form of verb conjugations, which uses “t” as a past tense and past participle.

UK spellingUS spelling

Sentences with kneeled/knelt

Henry kneeled/knelt to pick up the wallet that someone dropped.

Sam kneeled/knelt before the king.

I kneeled/knelt before the altar to worship God.

He kneeled/knelt and prayed for guidance.

“Kneel”, synonyms

  • bow
  • curtsey
  • genuflect (“to bend the knee or touch one knee to the floor in reverence or worship”.)
  • kowtow
  • stoop
  • bow down
  • prostrate oneself

Origin of ‘kneel’

From Etymonline on kneel:

Old English cneowlian “to kneel, fall on the knees,” from Proto-Germanic *knewljan.

Learn more about US English vs. UK English

Commonly misused wordsUK English vs. US English
former vs. latterburned or burnt?
bear with vs. bare withcolor or colour?
breathe or breathfavorite vs. favourite
compliment vs. complementsmelled or smelt?
effect vs. affectgray or grey?
elude or alludefavor vs. favour
it’s or itsanalyze or analyse?


  1. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of kneel.” Online Etymology Dictionary Accessed 9 March, 2024.
  2. Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, kneel.

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