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 Kingston lists compatibility with Windows, macOS, Linux kernel, and Chrome OS Android. Gregg Ellman, Star Tribune, "Flashdrive with password keeps data safe," 21 Oct. 2020 Post updated to reflect correction from Intel that Linux kernel version 5.9 doesn't fix the vulnerabilities. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Google and Intel warn of high-severity Bluetooth security bug in Linux," 14 Oct. 2020 Disinformation attacks begin with a kernel of truth (a company donated to a particular candidate) but spin that information to come to a false conclusion (the donation was payback for a political favor). Robert Mcmillan, WSJ, "Brands Face a New Online Threat: Disinformation Attacks," 8 Oct. 2020 There was, in her father’s advice, a kernel of something appealing. Karla Peterson, Michael James Rocha, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Phenomenal San Diego women: Creators and performers," 27 Sep. 2020 Imagine updating Android's Linux kernel through the Play Store! Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Android 11—The Ars Technica Review," 23 Sep. 2020 Despite all of this, there’s an underlying kernel of truth in liberals’ concerns about the Supreme Court’s legitimacy. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "How to End the Judicial Wars, Once and for All," 23 Sep. 2020 Time to painstakingly extract the requisite kernel debris from my teeth! Ali Francis, Bon Appétit, "For the Love of Cob, How Should I Grill My Sweet Corn?," 3 Sep. 2020 Linus Torvalds, lead developer of the Linux kernel, created Git to replace the proprietary software BitKeeper, which used the same terminology. Elizabeth Landau, Wired, "Tech Confronts Its Use of the Labels ‘Master’ and ‘Slave’," 6 July 2020

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

24 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Kernel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 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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