Try Our Apps


WATCH "Lumbersexual"


[kur-nl] /ˈkɜr nl/
the softer, usually edible part contained in the shell of a nut or the stone of a fruit.
the body of a seed within its husk or integuments.
a whole seed grain, as of wheat or corn.
South Atlantic States. the pit or seed of a peach, cherry, plum, etc.
the central or most important part of anything; essence; gist; core:
His leadership is the kernel of the organization.
Mathematics. the set of elements that a given function from one set to a second set maps into the identity of the second set.
Also called rumpf. Physical Chemistry. the remainder of an atom after the valence electrons have been removed.
verb (used with object), kerneled, kerneling or (especially British) kernelled, kernelling.
to enclose as a kernel.
Origin of kernel
before 1000; Middle English kirnel, Old English cyrnel, diminutive of corn seed, corn1
Related forms
kernelless, adjective
kernelly, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for kernel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
British Dictionary definitions for kernel


the edible central part of a seed, nut, or fruit within the shell or stone
the grain of a cereal, esp wheat, consisting of the seed in a hard husk
the central or essential part of something
verb -nels, -nelling, -nelled (US) -nels, -neling, -neled
(intransitive) (rare) to form kernels
Derived Forms
kernel-less, adjective
Word Origin
Old English cyrnel a little seed, from corn seed; see corn1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for kernel

Old English cyrnel "seed, kernel, pip," from Proto-Germanic *kurnilo- (cf. Middle High German kornel, Middle Dutch cornel), from the root of corn "seed, grain" (see corn (n.1)) + -el, diminutive suffix. Figurative sense of "core or central part of anything" is from 1550s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
kernel in Science
  1. A grain or seed, as of a cereal grass, enclosed in a husk.

  2. The inner, usually edible seed of a nut or fruit stone.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
kernel in Technology

(Note: NOT "kernal").
1. The essential part of Unix or other operating systems, responsible for resource allocation, low-level hardware interfaces, security etc. See also microkernel.
2. An essential subset of a programming language, in terms of which other constructs are (or could be) defined. Also known as a core language.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for kernel

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for kernel

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for kernel