\ ˈkiŋ How to pronounce king (audio) \

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 How to pronounce King (audio) \

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

Noun 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 People today are still finding ways to break rules,’’ said Rose, baseball’s hit king. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "Pete Rose supports MLB's decision on Astros cheating scandal, but wonders if players should be punished," 14 Jan. 2020 Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? New York Times, "Prince Harry and Meghan Stepping Back, Explained," 11 Jan. 2020 Historically, the male heir apparent — i.e., William once Charles is crowned king — is the one to reap the financial benefits of being the figurehead of the Duchy. Megan Mccluskey, Time, "How Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Might Become Financially Independent of the Royal Family," 10 Jan. 2020 The 1979 revolution shifted Iran from a monarchy to an Islamic republic, after ousting Iran's powerful king whom the CIA had put in power decades earlier. Margaret Brennan, CBS News, "Key moments in U.S. and Iran's tortured history," 10 Jan. 2020 And here’s to Ken Jennings, one of the greatest mental athletes of our time looking to prove once and for all that nobody takes down the king. Andy Nesbitt, For The Win, "Ken Jennings is the baddest man on the Jeopardy! planet," 8 Jan. 2020 In a way, there weren’t any villains in the First World War apart from the politicians and the kings and the empires. Anne Cohen,, "Meet The 32-Year-Old Woman Who Co-Wrote The Best War Movie Of The Year," 3 Jan. 2020 In Northern Ireland, not far from the city of Armagh, sits the archaeological site of Navan Fort, a prehistoric hub linked to historic kings and legendary heroes. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, "People Trekked Across Ireland to Eat Pork at This Ancient Site," 31 Dec. 2019 Under normal circumstances, tourists can go up to the top of the 555-foot obelisk at the heart of our nation's capital and gaze out like kings at the tidy grid of humanity below. Aj Willingham, CNN, "20 things to look forward to in 2020," 28 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for king

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for king

Last Updated

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“King.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for king


How to pronounce King (audio)

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 How to pronounce king (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on king

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for king

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with king

Spanish Central: Translation of king

Nglish: Translation of king for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of king for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about king

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