: 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 It’s been nearly two years since Álvarez scored a stoppage win to become the super middleweight king. Manouk Akopyan, Los Angeles Times, 30 Sep. 2023 The hotel owes its legendary status to its rich history, having stood through the reigns of two French kings, the French Revolution, the rise and fall of the Napoleonic Empire and the birth of the League of Nations. Victoria Uwumarogie, Essence, 29 Sep. 2023 Kelley House is the largest, with a number of king and double rooms and suites. Elizabeth Rhodes, Travel + Leisure, 28 Sep. 2023 That bycatch includes king and chum salmon, crab, halibut, and other species. Outdoor Life, 28 Sep. 2023 One post likened Congress politicians to Tipu Sultan, an 18th-century Muslim king who is often vilified for allegedly butchering Hindus. Gerry Shih, Washington Post, 27 Sep. 2023 Declarer ruffed and led a heart to the queen and king. Bobby Wolff, Arkansas Online, 25 Sep. 2023 Brett Anderson In the Big Sky State, the steakhouse is still king. Melissa Clark, New York Times, 18 Sep. 2023 Here's a breakdown of the Passover story that may be appropriate for telling children: Over 3000 years ago, a wicked Egyptian king forced the ancient Jewish people (the Israelites) to toil in the heat constructing buildings and carrying massive bricks. Holly Rizzuto Palker, Parents, 17 Sep. 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 4 Oct. 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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