variants or kerne
: a light-armed foot soldier of medieval Ireland or Scotland
: yokel


2 of 3

noun (2)

: a part of a typeset letter that projects beyond its side bearings


3 of 3


kerned; kerning; kerns

transitive + intransitive

: to adjust or specify the width of the side bearings between certain pairs of adjacent characters in order to improve the appearance and legibility of composed text
manually kerning pairs of letters
a kerned font [=a font that includes kerned letter pairs]
With the spacing set up (accounting for wider letters like M and W) I started kerning. This was a massively painstaking process.James Barnard

Word History


Noun (1)

Middle English kerne, from Middle Irish cethern band of soldiers

Noun (2)

French carne corner, from French dialect, from Latin cardin-, cardo hinge


derivative of kern entry 2

First Known Use

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1683, in the meaning defined above


1986, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of kern was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near kern

Cite this Entry

“Kern.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Geographical Definition


geographical name

river 150 miles (241 kilometers) long in south central California flowing southwest into a reservoir

Biographical Definition


biographical name

Jerome David 1885–1945 American composer
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