\ ˈkith How to pronounce kith (audio) \

Definition of kith

: familiar friends, neighbors, or relatives kith and kin

The Evolution of Kith

Kith has had many meanings over the years. In its earliest uses it referred to knowledge of something, but that meaning died out in the 1400s. Another sense, "one's native land," had come and gone by the early 1500s. The sense "friends, fellow countrymen, or neighbors" developed before the 12th century and was sometimes used as a synonym of kinsfolk. That last sense got kith into hot water after people began using the word in the alliterative phrase "kith and kin." Over the years, usage commentators have complained that kith means the same thing as kin, so "kith and kin" is redundant. Clearly, they have overlooked some other historical definitions, but if you want to avoid redundancy charges, be sure to include friends as well as relatives among your "kith and kin."

Examples of kith in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web They were being held to the same standards as the rest of the world, forced to confront political realities that were previously beyond their kith. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, 30 Dec. 2020 All familiar sights around Christmas, when the social obligations of the festive season draw people together with their kith and kin. Elisabeth Blagrove, Quartz, 25 Dec. 2019 According to Ms Debos, the need for France’s intervention showed that some high-ranking officers were unwilling to fight their kith and kin among the rebels. The Economist, 18 July 2019 Although Edward IV had the Lancastrian King Henry VI secretly murdered in the Tower in 1471, to close off the enemy dynasty, Richard couldn’t get away with the same thing with his own kith and kin 12 years later. Andrew Roberts, WSJ, 30 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'kith.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of kith

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for kith

Middle English, from Old English cȳthth; akin to cūth known — more at uncouth

Learn More About kith

Time Traveler for kith

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About kith

Dictionary Entries Near kith

kit fox


kith and kin

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for kith

Cite this Entry

“Kith.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for kith


\ ˈkith How to pronounce kith (audio) \

Kids Definition of kith

: familiar friends and neighbors or relatives We invited our kith and kin.

More from Merriam-Webster on kith

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for kith

Nglish: Translation of kith for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!