\ˈkiŋ \

Definition of king 

(Entry 1 of 9)

1a : a male monarch of a major territorial unit especially : one whose position is hereditary and who rules for life

b : a paramount chief

2 capitalized : god, christ … to worship the King, the Lord of hosts … — Zechariah 14:16 (Revised Standard Version)

3 : one that holds a preeminent position especially : a chief among competitors the cattle kings rode up from the south — Alan Moorehead even if no longer king, cotton remains the chief cash crop — Howell Walker

4 : the principal piece of each color in chess having the power to move ordinarily one square in any direction and to capture opposing pieces but being obliged never to enter or remain in check

5 : a playing card marked with a stylized figure of a king

6 : a checker that has been crowned


biographical name (1)
\ˈkiŋ \

Definition of King (Entry 2 of 9)

B. B. 1925–2015 originally Riley B. King American blues musician


biographical name (2)

Definition of King (Entry 3 of 9)

Billie Jean 1943–     née Moffitt American tennis player


biographical name (3)

Definition of King (Entry 4 of 9)

Ernest Joseph 1878–1956 American admiral


biographical name (4)

Definition of King (Entry 5 of 9)

Martin Luther, Jr. 1929–1968 American clergyman and civil rights leader


biographical name (5)

Definition of King (Entry 6 of 9)

Rufus 1755–1827 American politician and diplomat


biographical name (6)

Definition of King (Entry 7 of 9)

Stephen (Edwin) 1947–     American writer


biographical name (7)

Definition of King (Entry 8 of 9)

William Lyon Mackenzie 1874–1950 Canadian statesman; prime minister (1921–26; 1926–30; 1935–48)


biographical name (8)

Definition of King (Entry 9 of 9)

William Rufus de Vane 1786–1853 American politician; vice president of the U.S. (1853)

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Synonyms for king

Synonyms: Noun

baron, captain, czar (also tsar), lion, lord, magnate, mogul, monarch, prince, tycoon

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Examples of king in a Sentence


He pledged his loyalty to the king and queen. the reign of King James He became king at a young age. He's widely regarded as the king of soul music. He was voted king of the prom. The lion is known as the king of the jungle. She won the game by checkmating his king.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

An ancient statue of a Nubian king with an inscription written in Egyptian hieroglyphics was also found at a Nile River temple in Sudan. James Rogers, Fox News, "Mysterious giant sarcophagus discovered in Egypt," 10 July 2018 Blueprint Saturday, July 14, at MiniBar Blueprint is a king without a crown. Bill Brownlee, kansascity, "KC concerts July 12-18: Kenny Chesney, Imagine Dragons, Jason Isbell, Foreigner," 10 July 2018 Justify may have won this year's Triple Crown, but there's only one horse's name fit for a king. Jenna West,, "Gronkowski Owners Buy New Race Horse, Name Him 'LeBron J'," 3 July 2018 Before he was crowned king, George V and his wife, Queen Mary (Queen Elizabeth II's great-grandparents) visited the estate 1905. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan Might Be Honeymooning at Ireland's Ultra-Swanky Ashford Castle," 7 June 2018 In Spurrier’s day, a $1 million dollar head coaching salary was a king’s ransom. Edgar Thompson,, "Scott Stricklin: Surging coordinator salaries create uncomfortable optics," 30 May 2018 In the game, Black, under some pressure and in his eagerness to keep lines closed around his king, overlooks a powerful sacrifice that more or less ends the game in White’s favor. Chris Chase,, "Chess notes," 8 July 2018 Britons might feel that their king had put family feeling before matters of state. The Economist, "How the royal houses of Europe abandoned the Romanovs," 28 June 2018 Mound Key itself was a towering artificial island the Calusa made from mostly oyster and clam shells and topped with the monumental house for their king. National Geographic, "Ancient Native American King's House Rediscovered in Florida," 13 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'king.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of king


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for king


Middle English, from Old English cyning; akin to Old High German kuning king, Old English cynn kin

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Statistics for king

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for king

The first known use of king was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for king



English Language Learners Definition of king

: a male ruler of a country who usually inherits his position and rules for life

: a boy or man who is highly respected and very successful or popular

: a boy or man who is awarded the highest honor for an event or contest


\ˈkiŋ \

Kids Definition of king

1 : a male ruler of a country who usually inherits his position and rules for life

2 : a person or thing that is better or more important than all others the king of jazz

3 : the chief piece in the game of chess

4 : a playing card bearing the picture of a king

5 : a piece in checkers that has reached the opponent's back row

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Comments on king

What made you want to look up king? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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