Find the word definition

Crossword clues for kenning

The Collaborative International Dictionary

Ken \Ken\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Kenned (k[e^]nd); p. pr. & vb. n. Kenning.] [OE. kennen to teach, make known, know, AS. cennan to make known, proclaim, or rather from the related Icel. kenna to know; akin to D. & G. kennen to know, Goth. kannjan to make known; orig., a causative corresponding to AS. cunnan to know, Goth. kunnan. [root]45. See Can to be able, Know.]

  1. To know; to understand; to take cognizance of. [Archaic or Scot.]

  2. To recognize; to descry; to discern. [Archaic or Scot.] ``We ken them from afar.''

    'T is he. I ken the manner of his gait.


Kenning \Ken"ning\, n. [See Ken, v. t.]

  1. Range of sight. [Obs.]

  2. The limit of vision at sea, being a distance of about twenty miles.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

Old English cenning "procreation; declaration in court," present participle of ken (v.). From early 14c. in senses "sign, token; teaching, instruction;" c.1400 as "mental cognition." From 1871 as "periphrastic expression in early Germanic poetry;" in this sense it probably is from a modern learned use of Old Norse cognate verb kenna "to know, to recognize, to feel or perceive; to call, to name (in a formal poetic metaphor)."\n\nIn the whole poem of Beowulf there are scarcely half a dozen of them [similes], and these of the simplest character, such as comparing a ship to a bird. Indeed, such a simple comparison as this is almost equivalent to the more usual "kenning" (as it is called in Icelandic), such as "brimfugol," where, instead of comparing the ship to a bird, the poet simply calls it a sea-bird, preferring the direct assertion to the indirect comparison.

[Henry Sweet, "Sketches of the History of Anglo-Saxon Poetry," London, 1871]


Etymology 1 n. 1 (context obsolete English) sight; view; a distant view at se

  1. 2 (context obsolete English) range or extent of vision, especially at sea; (context by extension English) a marine measure of approximately twenty miles. 3 As little as one can recognise or discriminate; a small portion; a little. v

  2. (present participle of ken English) Etymology 2

    n. The tread of an egg; cicatricula. Etymology 3

    n. A metaphorical phrase used in Germanic poetry (especially Old English or Old Norse) whereby a simple thing is described in an allusive way, such as ‘whale road’ for ‘sea’, or ‘enemy of the mast’ for ‘wind’.

  1. n. range of what one can know or understand; "beyond my ken" [syn: cognizance]

  2. the range of vision; "out of sight of land" [syn: sight]

  3. [also: kent, kenning, kenned]


n. conventional metaphoric name for something, used especially in Old English and Old Norse poetry


See ken


A kenning ( Modern Icelandic pronunciation: ; derived from Old Norse) is a type of circumlocution, in the form of a compound that employs figurative language in place of a more concrete single-word noun. Kennings are strongly associated with Old Norse and later Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon poetry.

They usually consist of two words, and are often hyphenated. For example, Old Norse poets might replace sverð, the regular word for “ sword”, with a more abstract compound such as “wound-hoe” ( Egill Skallagrímsson: Höfuðlausn 8), or a genitive phrase such as randa íss “ice of shields” ( Einarr Skúlason: ‘Øxarflokkr’ 9). Modern scholars have also applied the term kenning to similar figures of speech in other languages, especially Old English.

Kenning (disambiguation)

Kenning may refer to:

  • Kenning, a circumlocution used instead of an ordinary noun in Old Norse and later Icelandic poetry
  • Kenning (unit), an obsolete unit of dry measure in the Imperial system

People with the surname Kenning or Kennings:

  • Ethan Kenning (born 1943), American rock musician
  • Tony Kenning, Def Leppard's original drummer
  • Kodee Kennings, fictional girl
  • Sir George Kenning, Derbyshire (UK) entrepreneur in the motor trade.
Kenning (unit)

A kenning is an obsolete unit of dry measure in the imperial system, equal to two pecks or half a bushel.

Category:Imperial units Category:Units of volume

Usage examples of "kenning".

For a thousand years, it had been common kenning among tham thegither.

Masonic Cyclopaedia and Handbook of Masonic Archaeology, History and Biography , George Kenning, London, 1878.

As time passed, it had been disappointing kenning that she wouldna seek his attention, wouldna return his kisses, but then she hadna turned from him, either.

The Kennings and the Myres, once bitter foes, had long ago been beaten down to vassals.

The stranger spoke sometimes like a poet with a mouth full of ornate kennings, and then like a child who hadn't mastered the endings of words… but he'd improved even in the few hours they'd spoken.

The Old Hardic kennings or euphemisms for the word dragon are Firstborn, Eldest, Elder Children.