ker·​nel | \ ˈkər-nᵊl How to pronounce kernel (audio) \

Definition of kernel

1 : the inner softer part of a seed, fruit stone, or nut … as brown in hue as hazelnuts, and sweeter than the kernels.— William Shakespeare
2 : a whole seed of a cereal a kernel of corn
3 : a central or essential part : germ like many stereotypes … this one too contains some kernels of truth— S. M. Lyman
4 chiefly dialectal : a fruit seed
5 mathematics : a subset of the elements of one set (such as a group) that a function (such as a homomorphism) maps onto an identity element of another set

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Examples of kernel in a Sentence

There's not a kernel of truth in what they say. the kernel of your argument seems to be the inevitability of the division of that nation along ethnic lines
Recent Examples on the Web The sounds of gunfire — like corn kernels popping — and shouting are clearly audible, as the shooters wander around through the snow. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit police chief: New Year celebratory gunfire video 'an embarrassment'," 3 Jan. 2020 Our favorite popcorn popper is great to gift anyone who really wants to skip the stovetop method and still get savory kernels with each batch. Shayna Murphy, USA TODAY, "20 weird but practical gifts people will actually use," 12 Dec. 2019 Only 3% of the world’s cashew kernels can be designated as fair trade. Melissa Howell, Quartz, "Cashew milk is saving animals—but it’s hurting humans," 29 Oct. 2019 Basudha seems to be the last repository of one such triple-kernel rice landrace, Sateen. Debal Deb, Scientific American, "The Struggle to Save Heirloom Rice in India," 16 Oct. 2019 Hazelnut kernels are firm at first and become spongy during the drying process. oregonlive, "How to harvest hazelnuts, walnuts and chestnuts and store them for the winter," 15 Oct. 2019 Maize in the City in Thornton Maize in the City attractions include a 20-acre Crazed Corn Field Maze, a mini-maze, bouncers, barrel train ride, corn kernel box, animals and more. Beth Rankin, The Know, "A guide to Colorado corn mazes, pumpkin patches and fall farm festivals," 4 Oct. 2019 Bouts of eczema and acne at age 16, as well as bad experiences with cure-all skin-care products, led her to concoct her first cream, a moisturizing balm made from palm kernel butter produced by women in Obout. Fortune, "These ‘Beauty Brunches’ in Prove That Wellness Is More Than Skin Deep," 21 Sep. 2019 Oil pressed separately from the kernels inside the fruit is more saturated -- and thus semi-solid at room temperature -- and is used to make soaps, cosmetics and detergents. Washington Post, "Can Palm Oil Demand Be Met Without Ruining Rainforests?," 16 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'kernel.' 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 kernel

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for kernel

Middle English, from Old English cyrnel, diminutive of corn

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Time Traveler for kernel

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for kernel

Last Updated

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Kernel.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 24 January 2020.

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More Definitions for kernel


How to pronounce kernel (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of kernel

: the small, somewhat soft part inside a seed or nut
: a whole seed especially : one of the yellow seeds that cover an ear of corn
: a very small amount of something


ker·​nel | \ ˈkər-nᵊl How to pronounce kernel (audio) \

Kids Definition of kernel

1 : the inner softer part of a seed, fruit stone, or nut
2 : the whole grain or seed of a cereal plant a kernel of corn
3 : a very small amount a kernel of truth

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Comments on kernel

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


a feeling of well-being or elation

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