\ ˈkərn How to pronounce kern (audio) , ˈkern How to pronounce kern (audio) \
variants: or kerne

Definition of kern

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1 : a light-armed foot soldier of medieval Ireland or Scotland
2 : yokel
\ ˈkərn How to pronounce kern (audio) \

Definition of kern (Entry 2 of 5)

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


\ ˈkərn How to pronounce kern (audio) \
kerned; kerning; kerns

Definition of kern (Entry 3 of 5)

: 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


biographical name
\ ˈkərn How to pronounce Kern (audio) \

Definition of Kern (Entry 4 of 5)

Jerome David 1885–1945 American composer


geographical name
\ ˈkərn How to pronounce Kern (audio) \

Definition of Kern (Entry 5 of 5)

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

First Known Use of kern

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

History and Etymology for kern

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

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Time Traveler for kern

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

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Cite this Entry

“Kern.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kerne. Accessed 28 January 2020.

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with kern

Comments on kern

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


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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