\ 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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Synonyms for king

Synonyms: Noun

baron, captain, czar (also tsar), lion, lord, magnate, mogul, monarch, prince, tycoon

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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

Norris, the 2016 record-setter and a world-class cross-country skier, reigns as king of the mountain despite a valiant effort by King, a Mount Marathon rookie with an outstanding running resume. Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, "With an elite competitor hot on his heels, Anchorage’s David Norris takes back men’s Mount Marathon title," 5 July 2018 Upon arriving in Afghanistan, Mr. Sarkisian, a jolly, easygoing man, became friends with Zahir Shah, the king, who insisted that the couple extend their eight-month stay to 3½ years., "Leo Sarkisian, at 97; creator of VOA’s ‘Music Time in Africa’," 4 July 2018 How to Cook Burgers from Scratch Without a Meat Grinder A recipe from burger king, chef, and cookbook author Chris Kronner. Paula Forbes, GQ, "How to Cook Burgers from Scratch Without a Meat Grinder," 1 July 2018 With holiday tunes and Elvis Presley music featured throughout, the festive film is expected to be a trifecta of entertainment for fans of the king, country music, and of course, the Hallmark Channel. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Country Living, "Hallmark Is Looking for Extras to Appear in Their New 'Christmas at Graceland' Movie," 28 June 2018 The king, a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, has spearheaded initiatives that call for peace between Muslims and Christians, sponsored academic study of such initiatives, and hosted waves of refugees fleeing violence and war. Kristin E. Holmes,, "Philly-based Templeton Foundation awards $1.45 million religion prize to Jordan's King Abdullah II," 26 June 2018 Only elite women adopted the unveiled and mixed-gender socializing that the kings, queens, and courtiers were trying to popularize. Rafia Zakaria, The New Republic, "Driving Toward Change," 23 June 2018 Others, following Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu, aim to make a virtue of Trump’s libertinism and cruelty, comparing him to Cyrus the Great, the Persian king, who is said to have paved the way for the Jewish exodus. Virginia Heffernan, WIRED, "ChurchToo and Mike Pence’s Crisis of Faith," 21 June 2018 The king’s celebrity is also prone to generating controversy. Brian Switek, Smithsonian, "How We Elected T. rex to be Our Tyrant Lizard King," 21 June 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

13 Sep 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).


an open space surrounded by woods

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