ker·​nel | \ ˈkər-nᵊl \

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

While discerning travelers pan for kernels of authenticity, Telluride sits on the motherlode. Alex Bhattacharji, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Telluride Keeps Being Named the Best U.S. Ski Town," 5 Dec. 2018 With Meltdown, an attacker would try to read kernel memory from a user program. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Intel’s SGX blown wide open by, you guessed it, a speculative execution attack," 14 Aug. 2018 As a result, user programs can possibly steal glimpses at protected parts of the kernel memory. Fox News, "Paid Content: Your phone and computer are at risk: Here's what you need to know about Meltdown and Spectre," 27 Mar. 2018 Like those in remission from any illness, there will always be a kernel of dread. Nancy Richardson Fischer, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Power of Not Naming My Disorder," 3 Dec. 2018 At the start, the patients had allergic reactions to no more than 100 milligrams of peanut protein, equivalent to one-third of a peanut kernel. Peter Loftus, WSJ, "Experimental Drug Shows Promise Protecting Against Peanut Allergies," 18 Nov. 2018 The kernels are slightly smaller than conventional popcorn, and the corn is grown in nutrient-rich soil and has never been genetically modified. Kavita Daswani,, "4 ideas for guilt-free summer snacking," 7 July 2018 Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the kernels are soft, then let cool in a large bowl. Daniel Boulud, ELLE Decor, "Recipe: Crab-And-Corn Custard And Corn Salad With Yellow-Tomato Vinaigrette," 17 Aug. 2016 This three-in-one cleansing stick is formulated with charcoal to remove makeup and impurities, volcanic ash, — yes, volcanic ash — and oat kernel to exfoliate, and licorice extract to calm and soothe the skin. Tanisha Pina, Allure, "This K-Beauty Brand Just Launched at Walmart and Products Are Already Selling Out," 1 Aug. 2018

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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Last Updated

16 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for kernel

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

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More Definitions for kernel



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 \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on kernel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with kernel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for kernel

Spanish Central: Translation of kernel

Nglish: Translation of kernel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of kernel for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about kernel

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).


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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