1

ken

play
verb \ˈken\

Definition of ken

kenned

;

kenning

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 archaic :  see

  3. 2 chiefly dialectal :  recognize

  4. 3 chiefly Scotland :  know

  5. intransitive verb
  6. chiefly Scotland :  know

ken was our Word of the Day on 05/29/2016. Hear the podcast!

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


2

ken

noun

Definition of ken

  1. 1a :  the range of visionb :  sight, view 'tis double death to drown in ken of shore — William Shakespeare

  2. 2 :  the range of perception, understanding, or knowledge abstract words that are beyond the ken of young children — Lois M. Rettie

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 perception, understanding, or knowledge.

1590

First Known Use of ken

1590





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).

WORD OF THE DAY

a mode of satirical wit

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • manet-jeanne-spring
  • Which is a synonym of chaffer?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ