See more synonyms for ken on
verb (used with object), kenned or kent, ken·ning.
  1. Chiefly Scot.
    1. to know, have knowledge of or about, or be acquainted with (a person or thing).
    2. to understand or perceive (an idea or situation).
  2. Scots Law. to acknowledge as heir; recognize by a judicial act.
  3. Archaic. to see; descry; recognize.
  4. British Dialect Archaic.
    1. to declare, acknowledge, or confess (something).
    2. to teach, direct, or guide (someone).
verb (used without object), kenned or kent, ken·ning.
  1. British Dialect.
    1. to have knowledge of something.
    2. to understand.

Origin of ken

before 900; Middle English kennen to make known, see, know, Old English cennan to make known, declare; cognate with Old Norse kenna, German kennen; akin to can1
Can be confusedken kin Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for kenned

Historical Examples of kenned

  • I kenned it would end that way—and it is e'en this way that it should end!

    Red Cap Tales

    Samuel Rutherford Crockett

  • “I kenned by this time what he was to be at,” said John to Allison, when he had got thus far.

    Allison Bain

    Margaret Murray Robertson

  • I doubt you may have a sorer heart to carry about with you than you have kenned of yet.

    The Orphans of Glen Elder

    Margaret Murray Robertson

  • He was a manly, pleasant lad, in the days when I kenned him.

    Janet's Love and Service

    Margaret M Robertson

  • Then one of the officers blew a whistle, and I kenned what that was for.


    S. R. Crockett

British Dictionary definitions for kenned


  1. range of knowledge or perception (esp in the phrases beyond or in one's ken)
verb kens, kenning, kenned or kent (kɛnt)
  1. Scot and Northern English dialect to know
  2. Scot and Northern English dialect to understand; perceive
  3. (tr) archaic to see

Word Origin for ken

Old English cennan; related to Old Norse kenna to perceive, Old High German kennen to make known; see can 1
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

Word Origin and History for kenned



"to know," Scottish dialect, from Old English cennan "make known, declare, acknowledge" (in late Old English also "to know"), originally "make to know," causative of cunnan "to become acquainted with, to know" (see can (v.)). Cognate with German kennen, Danish kjende, Swedish känna. Related: Kenned; kenning.



"house where thieves meet," 1560s, vagabonds' slang, probably a shortening of kennel.



"range of sight," 1580s, a nautical abbreviation of kenning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper