noun knowl·edge \ ˈnä-lij \
|Updated on: 15 Jul 2018

Definition of knowledge

1 a (1) : the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association
(2) : acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique
b (1) : the fact or condition of being aware of something
(2) : the range of one's information or understanding
  • answered to the best of my knowledge
c : the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning : cognition
d : the fact or condition of having information or of being learned
  • a person of unusual knowledge
2 a : the sum of what is known : the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by humankind
b archaic : a branch of learning
3 archaic : sexual intercourse
4 obsolete : cognizance

Examples of knowledge in a Sentence

  1. At that time the word science had not been narrowed down to one kind of knowledge; it meant whatever was known, and men of learning were still able to possess most of it. —Jacques BarzunFrom Dawn to Decadence2000
  2. With their aid, he should be able to adapt himself selectively to his culture, rejecting its evils, stupidities and irrelevances, gratefully accepting all its treasures of accumulated knowledge … and practical wisdom. —Aldous Huxley"Culture and the … ," in Artificial Paradises, Mike Jay editor1999
  3. The knowledge of the godawful way people act (their greed, their vicarious or direct violence), and of the youth and helplessness of those who died, leads to shame … —Harold BrodkeyNew Yorker30 Jan. 1995
  4. She has little knowledge of fashion.

  5. He has devoted himself to the pursuit of knowledge.

  6. She gained a thorough knowledge of local customs.

  7. Did you have any knowledge of her intentions?

Recent Examples of knowledge from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of knowledge

Middle English knowlege, from knowlechen to acknowledge, irregular from knowen

Synonym Discussion of knowledge

knowledge, learning, erudition, scholarship mean what is or can be known by an individual or by humankind. knowledge applies to facts or ideas acquired by study, investigation, observation, or experience.
    • rich in the knowledge of human nature
learning applies to knowledge acquired especially through formal, often advanced, schooling.
    • a book that demonstrates vast learning
erudition strongly implies the acquiring of profound, recondite, or bookish learning.
    • an erudition unusual even in a scholar
scholarship implies the possession of learning characteristic of the advanced scholar in a specialized field of study or investigation.
    • a work of first-rate literary scholarship

KNOWLEDGE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of knowledge for English Language Learners

  • : information, understanding, or skill that you get from experience or education

  • : awareness of something : the state of being aware of something

KNOWLEDGE Defined for Kids


noun knowl·edge \ ˈnä-lij \

Definition of knowledge for Students

1 : understanding and skill gained by experience
  • He has a knowledge of carpentry.
2 : the state of being aware of something or of having information
  • He borrowed my camera without my knowledge.
3 : range of information or awareness To my knowledge our school has never won the championship.
4 : something learned and kept in the mind : learning

Law Dictionary


noun knowl·edge

legal Definition of knowledge

1 a : awareness or understanding especially of an act, a fact, or the truth : actual knowledge in this entry
b : awareness that a fact or circumstance probably exists; broadly : constructive knowledge in this entry — see also scienter, willful blindness
Note: Knowledge fundamentally differs from intent in being grounded in awareness rather than purpose.
actual knowledge
1 : direct and clear awareness (as of a fact or condition)
  • the bank had actual knowledge that the name and account number referred to different persons
2 : awareness of such information as would cause a reasonable person to inquire further; specifically : such awareness considered as a timely and sufficient substitute for actual notice (as of a work-related injury or of a bankruptcy proceeding)
  • ruled that the employer did not have actual notice or actual knowledge within 90 days
constructive knowledge
: knowledge (as of a condition or fact) that one using ordinary care or diligence would possess
  • had constructive knowledge of the presence of narcotics on his property
personal knowledge
: direct knowledge of a matter or of the truth or falsity of an allegation
  • a witness may not testify to a matter unless evidence is introduced sufficient to support a finding that the witness has personal knowledge of the matter
  • Federal Rules of Evidence Rule 602
superior knowledge
: knowledge greater than that possessed by another; especially : awareness of a condition or fact that affects another who was not aware of it
  • denied having had superior knowledge of the hazard
  • superior knowledge of a factor in the performance of a contract
2 : the range of one's information, understanding, or expertise
  • answered to the best of his knowledge

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up knowledge? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


one who attends or assists a leader

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Test Your Emoji Exceptionalism

  • test-your-emoji-exceptionalism-written-with-a-lot-of-emoji
  • What is this emoji intended to represent: 🤳
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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