Old English cyning "king, ruler," from Proto-Germanic *kuninggaz (cf. Dutch koning, Old Norse konungr, Danish konge, Old Saxon and Old High German kuning, Middle High German künic, German König). Possibly related to Old English cynn "family, race" (see kin), making a king originally a "leader of the people;" or from a related root suggesting "noble birth," making a king originally "one who descended from noble birth." The sociological and ideological implications render this a topic of much debate.
Finnish kuningas "king," Old Church Slavonic kunegu "prince" (Russian knyaz, Bohemian knez), Lithuanian kunigas "clergyman" are loans from Germanic.
As leon is the king of bestes. [John Gower, "Confessio Amantis," 1390]In Old English, used for names of chiefs of Anglian and Saxon tribes or clans, then of the states they founded. Also extended to British and Danish chiefs they fought. The chess piece so called from early 15c.; the playing card from 1560s; use in checkers/draughts first recorded 1820. Applied in nature to species deemed remarkably big or dominant (e.g. king crab, 1690s). In marketing, king-size is from 1939, originally of cigarettes.
[I]t was [Eugene] Field who haunted the declining years of Creston Clarke with his review of that actor's Lear. ... Said he, "Mr. Clarke played the King all the evening as though under constant fear that someone else was about to play the Ace." ["Theatre Magazine," January 1922]
is in Scripture very generally used to denote one invested with authority, whether extensive or limited. There were thirty-one kings in Canaan (Josh. 12:9, 24), whom Joshua subdued. Adonibezek subdued seventy kings (Judg. 1:7). In the New Testament the Roman emperor is spoken of as a king (1 Pet. 2:13, 17); and Herod Antipas, who was only a tetrarch, is also called a king (Matt. 14:9; Mark 6:22). This title is applied to God (1 Tim. 1:17), and to Christ, the Son of God (1 Tim. 6:15, 16; Matt. 27:11). The people of God are also called "kings" (Dan. 7:22, 27; Matt. 19:28; Rev. 1:6, etc.). Death is called the "king of terrors" (Job 18:14). Jehovah was the sole King of the Jewish nation (1 Sam. 8:7; Isa. 33:22). But there came a time in the history of that people when a king was demanded, that they might be like other nations (1 Sam. 8:5). The prophet Samuel remonstrated with them, but the people cried out, "Nay, but we will have a king over us." The misconduct of Samuel's sons was the immediate cause of this demand. The Hebrew kings did not rule in their own right, nor in name of the people who had chosen them, but partly as servants and partly as representatives of Jehovah, the true King of Israel (1 Sam. 10:1). The limits of the king's power were prescribed (1 Sam. 10:25). The officers of his court were, (1) the recorder or remembrancer (2 Sam. 8:16; 1 Kings 4:3); (2) the scribe (2 Sam. 8:17; 20:25); (3) the officer over the house, the chief steward (Isa. 22:15); (4) the "king's friend," a confidential companion (1 Kings 4:5); (5) the keeper of the wardrobe (2 Kings 22:14); (6) captain of the bodyguard (2 Sam. 20:23); (7) officers over the king's treasures, etc. (1 Chr. 27:25-31); (8) commander-in-chief of the army (1 Chr. 27:34); (9) the royal counsellor (1 Chr. 27:32; 2 Sam. 16:20-23). (For catalogue of kings of Israel and Judah see chronological table in Appendix.)