from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A figurative, usually compound expression used in place of a name or noun, especially in Old English and Old Norse poetry; for example, storm of swords is a kenning for battle.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. The tread of an egg; cicatricula.
- 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’.
- n. Sight; view; a distant view at sea.
- n. Range or extent of vision, especially at sea; (by extension) a marine measure of approximately twenty miles.
- n. As little as one can recognise or discriminate; a small portion; a little.
- v. Present participle of ken.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. Range of sight.
- n. The limit of vision at sea, being a distance of about twenty miles.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Sight; view; especially, a distant view at sea.
- n. Range or extent of vision, especially at sea; hence, a marine measure of about twenty miles.
- n. As little as one can recognize or discriminate; a small portion; a little: as, put in a kenning of salt.
- n. The cicatricula or tread of an egg. Also kinning.
- n. In Old Norse, Anglo-Saxon, and other old Teutonic poetry, a distinctive poetical name, usually periphrastic in form, used in addition to, or substituted for, the usual name of a thing or person.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. conventional metaphoric name for something, used especially in Old English and Old Norse poetry
A kenning is actually instead of a name, rather than in addition to (as I just discovered by looking it up with excessive help from Catzilla): "a figurative, usually compound expression used in place of a name or noun, especially in Old English and Old Norse poetry; for example, storm of swords is a kenning for battle."
The word kenning is derived from the Old Norse phrase kenna ett vid, which means “to express a thing in terms of another”, and is found throughout Norse, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic literature.
In literature, a kenning is a magic poetic phrase, a figure of speech, substituted for the usual name of a person or thing.
I think I'd go with Kevin Crossley-Holland's view that a kenning is a condensed riddle, though that's really saying much the same thing as a riddle being an extended kenning.
I find myself curiously reluctant to construct a kenning for myself, actually.
I like 'Mighty-sinewed chemist's daughter' myself, though I suspect that's not a kenning because it's, y'know.
The kenning, a metaphorical compound-word or phrase, is a descriptive stand-in for a noun.
These "clues" in turn suggest the Anglo-Saxon/Old Norse kenning, reminding us that Morgan was a fine translator of Beowulf.
I missed Stella, missed her there beside me, missed the comfort of our kenning conversations.
I tried listening for the critter in the kenning way, tried to feel him down through all the decks.