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. 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.
- 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’.
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.