Origin and Etymology of ken
Middle English kennen, from Old English cennan to make known & Old Norse kenna to perceive; both akin to Old English can know — more at can
First Known Use: 13th century
Did You Know?
Ken appeared on the English horizon in the 16th century as a term of measurement of the distance bounding the range of ordinary vision at sea - about 20 miles. British author John Lyly used that sense in 1580 when he wrote, "They are safely come within a ken of Dover." Other 16th-century writers used "ken" to mean "range of vision" ("Out of ken we were ere the Countesse came from the feast." - Thomas Nashe) or "sight" ("'Tis double death to drown in ken of shore." - Shakespeare). Today, however, "ken" rarely suggests literal sight. Rather, "ken" nowadays almost always implies a range of comprehension, understanding, or knowledge.
First Known Use of ken
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up ken? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).