ker·​nel ˈkər-nᵊl How to pronounce kernel (audio)
: the inner softer part of a seed, fruit stone, or nut
… as brown in hue as hazelnuts, and sweeter than the kernels.William Shakespeare
: a whole seed of a cereal
a kernel of corn
: a central or essential part : germ
like many stereotypes … this one too contains some kernels of truthS. M. Lyman
chiefly dialectal : a fruit seed
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

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 human migration into space
Recent Examples on the Web Scatter the corn kernels on the prepared pan, spreading them out so the kernels are in a single layer. Karla Walsh, Better Homes & Gardens, 3 June 2024 When cool enough to handle, cut corn kernels off the cobs with a knife. Eileen Finan, Peoplemag, 31 May 2024 Fresh corn kernels: Fresh is best, but frozen (and thawed) works great, too. Southern Living Test Kitchen, Southern Living, 29 May 2024 Moroccan oil, also known as argan oil, is made from the kernels of the argan nut found inside the fruit of the argan tree. Brittany Loggins, Health, 26 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for kernel 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'kernel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Old English cyrnel, diminutive of corn

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near kernel

Cite this Entry

“Kernel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


ker·​nel ˈkərn-ᵊl How to pronounce kernel (audio)
: the inner softer part of a seed, fruit stone, or nut
: a whole grain or seed of a cereal (as wheat or corn)
: a central or basic part
a kernel of truth in what they say

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