Definition of ken
- abstract words that are beyond the ken of young children
- —Lois M. Rettie
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These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ken.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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 perception, understanding, or knowledge.
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