Definition of kith
: familiar friends, neighbors, or relatives kith and kin
kith was our Word of the Day on 08/05/2016. Hear the podcast!
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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."
KITH Defined for Kids
Definition of kith for Students
: familiar friends and neighbors or relatives We invited our kith and kin.
Seen and Heard
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