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

This is usually things like the Linux kernel and drivers. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Talkin’ Treble: How Android engineers are winning the war on fragmentation," 8 June 2018 And like many Trump exaggerations and Twitter assaults, there is a kernel of truth underlying his claim. Matt Viser,, "Collusion debate hits a foggy bottom," 19 May 2018 Some of the lore about ASU, UA and NAU is true, or at least contains a kernel of truth. Rachel Leingang, azcentral, "Arizona State charged 4,500 students for scholarships after computer glitch," 25 June 2018 The Windows 10 Creators Update, released six months later, took even further steps to detect kernel exploits. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "The Elite Microsoft Hacker Team That Keeps Windows PCs Safe," 10 June 2018 When inspiration strikes or a kernel of thought worms its way into your head, digital notation on a smartphone is far better to reference later than scraps of paper strewn about one’s physical life. Rob Manker, Naperville Sun, "Manker: It's cold sweat time when your smartphone is suddenly gone," 7 June 2018 Take up the challenge: Alas, the corn eating contest was discontinued some time back over liability concerns (like someone choking on a corn kernel). Nancy Stohs, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "6 food festivals that offer a glimpse of Wisconsin specialties and local culture," 6 June 2018 There's a new desktop, a new lock screen, some new default apps, and (of course) a new kernel under the hood. Scott Gilbertson, Ars Technica, "Ubuntu 18.04: Unity is gone, GNOME is back—and Ubuntu has never been better," 9 May 2018 When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob. San Antonio Express-News, "Recipe: Sweet Corn Salad," 9 May 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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Statistics for kernel

Last Updated

23 Oct 2018

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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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Comments on kernel

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playful or foolish behavior

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