: a male monarch of a major territorial unit
especially : one whose position is hereditary and who rules for life
: a paramount chief
capitalized : god, christ
… to worship the King, the Lord of hosts …Zechariah 14:16 (Revised Standard Version)
: 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
: 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
: a playing card marked with a stylized figure of a king
: a checker that has been crowned

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Another apparent friend, Mohamed Al-Fayed, ensnares her in his own dynastic drama: his pursuit of British legitimacy through a marital alliance between his feckless eldest son, Dodi Fayed, and the mother of a future king. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 15 Nov. 2023 Diana’s legacy Diana’s life and death radically changed both the British press and the royal family, including the country’s new king. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 15 Nov. 2023 Watch Black Widow on Disney+ Black Panther Following his father’s death, T’Challa returns home to Wakanda, a secretive nation with impressive technological advancements, to take his place as king. Jacqueline Weiss, Peoplemag, 10 Nov. 2023 Reportedly, the politician-cum-fugitive had invited the king’s men into his home to read the warrant for his arrest aloud. WIRED, 7 Nov. 2023 Queens and kings competing in a ball usually do so with a pleasure, good humor, and solidarity that comes from struggling and suffering together in an inhospitable world. Gabriel N. Rosenberg, The New Republic, 3 Nov. 2023 After a speedy trial in Manhattan federal court, the onetime crypto king, now 31, was convicted on Thursday of seven counts of fraud and conspiracy involving his companies FTX and Alameda Research. David Streitfeld, New York Times, 3 Nov. 2023 The plot of Marie Antoinette also hinges on the reluctance of another king, Jason Schwartzman’s sheepish Louis XVI, to seal the proverbial deal, spurring in Dunst’s queen a frustration and insatiable lust for decadence and infidelity. Andrew Marzoni, The New Republic, 3 Nov. 2023 The verdict capped the stunning fall of the onetime crypto king, whose shaggy-haired, boy-genius persona helped catapult FTX into a powerhouse trading platform that sponsored sports teams and ran glitzy ads featuring football great Tom Brady, model Gisele Bündchen and comedian Larry David. James Fanelli, WSJ, 3 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'king.' 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 cyning; akin to Old High German kuning king, Old English cynn kin

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near king

Cite this Entry

“King.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a male ruler of a country who usually inherits his position and rules for life
: a chief among competitors
an oil king
: the chief piece in the game of chess
: a playing card bearing the figure of a king
: a piece in the game of checkers that has reached the opponent's back row and has been crowned

Biographical Definition

King 1 of 8

biographical name (1)

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


2 of 8

biographical name (2)

Billie Jean 1943–     née Moffitt American tennis player


3 of 8

biographical name (3)

Ernest Joseph 1878–1956 American admiral


4 of 8

biographical name (4)

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


5 of 8

biographical name (5)

Rufus 1755–1827 American politician and diplomat


6 of 8

biographical name (6)

Stephen (Edwin) 1947–     American writer


7 of 8

biographical name (7)

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


8 of 8

biographical name (8)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on king

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