\ˈkiŋ \

Definition of king 

(Entry 1 of 9)

1a : a male monarch of a major territorial unit especially : one whose position is hereditary and who rules for life

b : a paramount chief

2 capitalized : god, christ … to worship the King, the Lord of hosts … — Zechariah 14:16 (Revised Standard Version)

3 : one that holds a preeminent position especially : a chief among competitors the cattle kings rode up from the south — Alan Moorehead even if no longer king, cotton remains the chief cash crop — Howell Walker

4 : the principal piece of each color in chess having the power to move ordinarily one square in any direction and to capture opposing pieces but being obliged never to enter or remain in check

5 : a playing card marked with a stylized figure of a king

6 : a checker that has been crowned


biographical name (1)
\ˈkiŋ \

Definition of King (Entry 2 of 9)

B. B. 1925–2015 originally Riley B. King American blues musician


biographical name (2)

Definition of King (Entry 3 of 9)

Billie Jean 1943–     née Moffitt American tennis player


biographical name (3)

Definition of King (Entry 4 of 9)

Ernest Joseph 1878–1956 American admiral


biographical name (4)

Definition of King (Entry 5 of 9)

Martin Luther, Jr. 1929–1968 American clergyman and civil rights leader


biographical name (5)

Definition of King (Entry 6 of 9)

Rufus 1755–1827 American politician and diplomat


biographical name (6)

Definition of King (Entry 7 of 9)

Stephen (Edwin) 1947–     American writer


biographical name (7)

Definition of King (Entry 8 of 9)

William Lyon Mackenzie 1874–1950 Canadian statesman; prime minister (1921–26; 1926–30; 1935–48)


biographical name (8)

Definition of King (Entry 9 of 9)

William Rufus de Vane 1786–1853 American politician; vice president of the U.S. (1853)

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Examples of king in a Sentence


He pledged his loyalty to the king and queen. the reign of King James He became king at a young age. He's widely regarded as the king of soul music. He was voted king of the prom. The lion is known as the king of the jungle. She won the game by checkmating his king.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The patent-pending Afloat waterbed sells for $2,000 to $3,300, depending on the size: queen, king or dual kind. Marcia Heroux Pounds,, "City Furniture bringing waterbeds back," 4 June 2018 The lyrics of the national anthem, written in 1984, mainly serve to glorify the king and Islam. The Christian Science Monitor, "Saudi Arabia’s struggle to define national identity," 29 May 2018 And for that matter, there’s not really a king to impose order. Gabriel Winant, The New Republic, "Barbara Ehrenreich’s radical critique of wellness and self-improvement," 23 May 2018 Miami’s billionaire condo king is making a big investment in South Florida’s future workforce. Rene Rodriguez, miamiherald, "Jorge and Darlene Pérez donate $1 million to FIU Honors College," 13 July 2018 Another customer was popcorn king Orville Redenbacher. George Varga,, "Lou Curtiss, a key mentor to Tom Waits, Jack Tempchin and other musicians, has died at 79," 10 July 2018 The carriages, stylish cottages on wheels, are fully outfitted with king-size beds, coolers, exterior window shutters, fire pits, and seating areas. Diane Daniel,, "More ways to camp in style at Sandy Pines," 10 July 2018 Plato laid out the correct way to educate philosopher-kings in The Republic. Bob Morris, Town & Country, "How College Courses on Happiness and Humiliation Because the Hottest Trend on Campus," 10 July 2018 Singer-songwriter Sheeran, with 6.3 billion streams on Spotify alone last year, dethroned 2016 streaming king Drake on the streaming service. John Kehe, The Christian Science Monitor, "How streaming is saving the music business," 3 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'king.' 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 king


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for king


Middle English, from Old English cyning; akin to Old High German kuning king, Old English cynn kin

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Statistics for king

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for king

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

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More Definitions for king



English Language Learners Definition of king

: a male ruler of a country who usually inherits his position and rules for life

: a boy or man who is highly respected and very successful or popular

: a boy or man who is awarded the highest honor for an event or contest


\ˈkiŋ \

Kids Definition of king

1 : a male ruler of a country who usually inherits his position and rules for life

2 : a person or thing that is better or more important than all others the king of jazz

3 : the chief piece in the game of chess

4 : a playing card bearing the picture of a king

5 : a piece in checkers that has reached the opponent's back row

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Comments on king

What made you want to look up king? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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