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

Many cooks make this dish year round with frozen corn, but kernels cut from cobs picked at your local farm is the best way. Karoline Boehm Goodnick,, "Recipe: An eggy batter with native corn, cream, and cornmeal turns into a savory summer custard," 13 Aug. 2019 There are some reports that users with very old AMD processors are seeing crashes because the Windows kernel is trying to use an instruction that the very earliest 64-bit AMD chips didn't support. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Bad docs and blue screens make Microsoft suspend Spectre patch for AMD machines," 9 Jan. 2018 When corn is cool, remove from water bath and cut kernels away from the cob. al, "Serve a meal inspired by Alabama’s 200-year history," 20 Aug. 2019 Like much crackpot science, there’s a kernel of truth to breatharianism. Alex Kuczynski, Harper's BAZAAR, "Inside Silicon Valley's Dangerous New Obsession With Fasting," 17 Aug. 2019 Cut the kernels from the ear of corn and microwave on high for 1 minute. Linda Gassenheimer, Twin Cities, "It’s too hot to cook. Try these Chicken Pita Pockets instead," 12 Aug. 2019 Fold in a heaping cup of the corn kernels, reserving the rest. Carrie Knauer,, "Carrie’s Kitchen: Corn on the cob is great, but here are three different ways to enjoy this versatile veggie," 29 July 2019 Cut each cob in half, then stand each half upright and cut off the kernels. Joe Yonan, The Denver Post, "For lazy summer days, this corn, tomato and tortilla-chip salad does all the work for you," 15 July 2019 Even during a handful of incongruous scenes when this low-key indie drama switches gear into frenetic farce, complete with police chases and double-crossing subplots, the film retains this pleasingly crunchy kernel of truth. Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter, "'End of Sentence': Film Review | Edinburgh 2019," 30 June 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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Last Updated

11 Sep 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 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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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).


to spread over or through

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