knowl·​edge ˈnä-lij How to pronounce knowledge (audio)
: the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association
: acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique
: the fact or condition of being aware of something
: the range of one's information or understanding
answered to the best of my knowledge
: the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning : cognition
: the fact or condition of having information or of being learned
a person of unusual knowledge
: the sum of what is known : the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by humankind
archaic : a branch of learning
archaic : sexual intercourse
obsolete : cognizance
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of knowledge in a Sentence

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 Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence, 2000
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
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 Brodkey, New Yorker, 30 Jan. 1995
She has little knowledge of fashion. He has devoted himself to the pursuit of knowledge. She gained a thorough knowledge of local customs. Did you have any knowledge of her intentions?
Recent Examples on the Web The floor is divided into 100 squares (81 in the U.S.), each representing a field of knowledge. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 6 Apr. 2024 Doug soon realized his medical knowledge wasn’t up to par and allowed Jules to step to help the patient. Stephanie Wenger, Peoplemag, 5 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for knowledge 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'knowledge.' 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 knowlege, from knowlechen to acknowledge, irregular from knowen

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Time Traveler
The first known use of knowledge was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near knowledge

Cite this Entry

“Knowledge.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


knowl·​edge ˈnäl-ij How to pronounce knowledge (audio)
: understanding or skill gained by experience
a knowledge of carpentry
: the state of being aware of something or of having information
: the range of one's information or understanding
answered to the best of my knowledge
: something learned and kept in the mind : learning
has a vast knowledge of history

Legal Definition


: awareness or understanding especially of an act, a fact, or the truth : actual knowledge in this entry
: 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
: 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
: 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 matterFederal 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
: the range of one's information, understanding, or expertise
answered to the best of his knowledge

More from Merriam-Webster on knowledge

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