from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Perception; understanding: complex issues well beyond our ken.
  • n. Range of vision.
  • n. View; sight.
  • transitive v. To know (a person or thing).
  • transitive v. To recognize.
  • intransitive v. To have knowledge or an understanding.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Knowledge or perception.
  • n. Range of sight.
  • v. To know, perceive or understand.
  • v. To discover by sight; to catch sight of; to descry.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A house; esp., one which is a resort for thieves.
  • n. Cognizance; view; especially, reach of sight or knowledge.
  • intransitive v. To look around.
  • transitive v. To know; to understand; to take cognizance of.
  • transitive v. To recognize; to descry; to discern.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To show; declare; teach; point out; tell.
  • To see; descry; recognize.
  • To lie within sight of; have a view of.
  • To know; understand; take cognizance of.
  • In Scots law, to acknowledge or recognize by a judicial act: as, to ken a widow to her terce (that is, to recognize or decree by a judicial act the right of a widow to the life-rent of her share of her deceased husband's lands). See terce.
  • To look around; gain knowledge by sight; discern.
  • To beget; bring forth.
  • To breed; hatch out.
  • A dialectal variant of kine, plural of cow.
  • n. Cognizance; physical or intellectual view; especially, reach of sight or knowledge.
  • n. A churn.
  • n. A place where low or disreputable characters lodge or meet: as, a padding-ken (a lodging-house for tramps); a sport ing-ken
  • n. A prefecture or territorial division of Japan, governed by a kenrei. Japan is now divided into 3 fu and about 40 ken.
  • n. A Japanese measure of length, equal to 71½ English inches.
  • n. The straight two-edged Japanese sword.
  • n. An abbreviation of Kentueky.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the range of vision
  • n. range of what one can know or understand


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

From Middle English kennen (influenced by Old Norse kenna, to know), from Old English cennan, to declare; see gnō- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Northern and Scottish dialects from Old English cennan ("make known, declare, acknowledge") originally “make to know”, causative of cunnan ("to become acquainted with, to know"), from Old Norse kenna ("know, perceive"), from Proto-Germanic *kannijanan, causative of *kunnanan (“be able”). Cognate to German kennen ("to know, be acquainted with someone/something").



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  • Recorded in English since 900!

    May 16, 2018

  • "ken" in Hungarian means: to spread (by a knife)

    August 7, 2012

  • Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

    When a new planet swims into his ken

    From "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer" by John Keats

    September 6, 2010

  • Dog in Japanese.

    February 5, 2010

  • I like it better verbed.

    October 15, 2008

  • We kenned the old cripple, immersed in an elbow chair, with a pillow under his head, cushions under his arms, and his legs supported on a large stool, stuffed with down.

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 2 ch. 1

    September 13, 2008

  • Yes, I am aware of the person of whom you speak.

    February 28, 2008

  • Do you ken John Peel?

    February 28, 2008

  • Ah dinnae ken, hen!

    translated for Sassenachs as "I'm terribly afraid I don't know, dearest!"

    June 11, 2007