Word of the Day : April 29, 2011


noun KEN


1 a : the range of vision

b : sight, view

2 : the range of perception, understanding, or knowledge

Did You Know?

"Ken" appeared on the English horizon in the 16th century as a term of measurement of the distance bounding the range of ordinary vision at sea -- about 20 miles. British author John Lyly used that sense in 1580 when he wrote, "They are safely come within a ken of Dover." Other 16th-century writers used "ken" to mean "range of vision" ("Out of ken we were ere the Countesse came from the feast." -- Thomas Nashe) or "sight" ("'Tis double death to drown in ken of shore." -- Shakespeare). Today, however, "ken" rarely suggests literal sight. Rather, "ken" nowadays almost always implies a range of comprehension, understanding, or knowledge.


The author advised the aspiring writers in the crowd to develop an authoritative voice by sticking to subjects within their ken.

"[Yemeni President Ali Abdullah] Saleh and his military-based regime are steering the country into a demographic and political minefield, and it's already far beyond their ken to steer out of it." -- From an article by Ellen Knickmeyer in Foreign Policy, February 10, 2011

Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "compurgator," our Word of the Day from April 14, 2011? The answer is ...


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