[ kee-noh ]
/ ˈki noʊ /
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noun, plural ki·nos.
(in Europe) a movie theater; cinema.
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Origin of kino

First recorded in 1925–30; from German, shortened form of Kinematograph, from French cinématographe “movie camera/projector”; see origin at cinematograph

Other definitions for kino (2 of 2)

[ kee-noh ]
/ ˈki noʊ /

Eusebio Francisco Padre Kino; Father Kino, 1645?–1711, Tyrolean-born explorer and missionary in SW North America.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What else does kino mean?

Kino can variously refer to a category of art-house cinema on internet message boards, an experimental film movement, or, controversially, a term for intimate touch among so-called pickup artists.

Where does kino come from?

In reference to cinema, kino is a shortening of the German kinematograph, meaning “motion-picture projector” and related to English’s own cinematography. Dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, both terms are rooted in the ancient Greek kinema, “movement” or “motion.” In contemporary German, Polish, Russian, and Slavic languages, the shortened form kino has popularly come to mean “film,” “movie theater,” or “cinema.”

In 1929, Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov prefaced his silent film Man with a Movie Camera with a message calling for “the creation of an authentically international absolute language of cinema—ABSOLUTE KINOGRAPHY.” Using what he called the “kino-eye” of the camera, Vertov employed innovative techniques of montage, split-screen shots, and double exposures to create what he aimed to be a kinography, a kind of grammar of cinema entirely unlike that of theater or literature.

Over the years, film buffs and scholars have made references to kino-eye and Absolute Kinography, but it wasn’t until around 2015 that Reddit and 4chan users began adopting Vertov’s kinography, and the shortened kino, as pretentious, tongue-in-cheek terms for films at the highest tier of cinema—creating a cinematic hierarchy, with kino ranking at the top (best films), followed by cinema, film, movie, and flick (worst films) at the bottom.

In a Reddit discussion on the social media adoption of the term, one commenter trolled an anonymous user’s list of motion pictures by ranking them into “appropriate” categories. The kino films are all foreign and range in date from the 1920–50s. Mean Girls (2004) was rated a flick, demoted to the lowest level.

One of the most popular contributions to the Reddit discussion of kino makes reference to the joking patricianplebeian social labels used on social media sites like 4chan. A “cultured patrician” is one who only watches kino—“the most obscure foreign films you can find,” as it was put in 2016—while “film is for plebs and movies or flicks are just laughable.”

In contrast to kino’s ironic usage on some social media boards, Kino, with a capital K, is the name of a serious film movement starting in 1999. With communities all over the world, the Kino movement challenges professional and amateur filmmakers to create a no- to low-budget short film in 48 hours or less.

In a meaning entirely unrelated to cinema, kino can also refer to “intimate or seductive touch,” a suggested gambit by the leaders of the “pickup artist” (PUA) community,” which has been widely criticized for sexism and misogyny. This kino is an abbreviation of kinesthetics, a word from the 1890s denoting the sensation of muscle movement. In some contexts, kinesthetics has come to signify the sense of touch more broadly (e.g. kinesthetic learning is learning through touch and movement).

How is kino used in real life?

As its many senses make clear, kino’s use entirely depends on context.

Primary users of “top-tier movies” kino are Reddit and 4chan members with an understanding of the social structure on their platforms. Specific subreddits like /r/television, /r/movies, and /r/moviescirclejerk, as well as 4chan’s /tv/, are where kino has been commonly found. Users may employ subgenres of kino, including capekino (kino-quality superhero movies) and telekino (kino TV shows).

Users of capital-K Kino are professional and amateur filmmakers and people with a serious interest and backgrounds in cinema. Academics specializing in film studies and media culture may know about the movement—and would likely be aware of Kino’s deeper history and roots, including Soviet filmmaker Vertov’s “Absolute Kinography.”

Finally, the main user-group for kino as “seductive touch” are men who create PUA materials or consider themselves members of the community. Practice of the PUA kino may be considered sexual harassment. 

Kino is not to be confused with keno, a lottery and casino game.

More examples of kino:

“Watch it lad. Its unironically kino”
—Anonymous user,  4chan, April 2018

“Yet, Kino is as much a social movement as it is a film movement … There are Kino cells in England, France, Germany, Morocco, Israel, Australia, Burkina Faso—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
—Mariah Phillips, Tribeca Film, December 2013


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

How to use kino in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for kino

/ (ˈkiːnəʊ) /

a dark red resin obtained from various tropical plants, esp an Indian leguminous tree, Pterocarpus marsupium, used as an astringent and in tanningAlso called: kino gum

Word Origin for kino

C18: of West African origin; related to Mandingo keno
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