[ nol-ij ]
See synonyms for knowledge on
  1. acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition: knowledge of many things.

  2. familiarity or conversance, as with a particular subject or branch of learning: A knowledge of accounting was necessary for the job.

  1. acquaintance or familiarity gained by sight, experience, or report: a knowledge of human nature.

  2. the fact or state of knowing; the perception of fact or truth; clear and certain mental apprehension.

  3. awareness, as of a fact or circumstance: He had knowledge of her good fortune.

  4. something that is or may be known; information: He sought knowledge of her activities.

  5. the body of truths or facts accumulated in the course of time.

  6. the sum of what is known: Knowledge of the true situation is limited.

  7. Archaic. sexual intercourse.: Compare carnal knowledge.

  1. creating, involving, using, or disseminating special knowledge or information: A computer expert can always find a good job in the knowledge industry.

Idioms about knowledge

  1. to one's knowledge, according to the information available to one: To my knowledge he hasn't been here before.

Origin of knowledge

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English knouleche, equivalent to know(en) “to know” + -leche, perhaps akin to Old English -lāc suffix denoting action or practice, cognate with Old Norse (-)leikr; see know1; cf. wedlock

synonym study For knowledge

1. See information.

word story For knowledge

Know, the first half of knowledge, is a no-brainer, so to speak. Know comes from the Proto-Indo-European root gnō-, gnē- gen-, gṇ- “to know, recognize.” The variant gnō- appears in Latin (g)nōscere “to know, come to know” (the -sc- is an inchoative or inceptive infix indicating the beginning of an action). Greek gignṓskein shows the same variant gnō- as Latin, preceded by present-tense reduplication, which in Greek is the first consonant of the root followed by i; gnō- is followed by the same inceptive infix -sk-. The Germanic forms of the root are knā-, knē-, kun-. The variant knē- forms the verb knēwan, Old English cnāwan, English know. The variant kun- forms the Old English verb cunnan “to be or become acquainted with, to know” (the English auxiliary verb can ) as well as the adjective and noun cunning.
The real problem is the second element, -ledge. There are many, many Middle English spelling variants of knowledge, including knoulecch(e), knouelech(e), cnoulech, knowlesche, knoleche, and later spellings, including knoulegge, knoleg(e), knoleige, knowlegege, knaulag(e), cnaulage. The earlier spellings indicate a pronunciation with the same ch sound as in leech or letch; the later spellings, for example, knaulage, originating in the northern dialects and implying a pronunciation with a soft g (as in gem ), appear in the 15th century.
The Middle English element -lech(e) is a very rare noun suffix from unrecorded Old English -lǽce, a variant of -lāc, a noun suffix indicating action or proceeding. The original suffix survives only in the noun wedlock (Old English wedlāc “pledge, security, espousals,” Middle English wedlōk “institution of marriage, the married state”), proving, once and for all, that wedlock is not related to the word lock.

Other words for knowledge

Other words from knowledge

  • know·ledge·less, adjective
  • pre·knowl·edge, noun
  • su·per·knowl·edge, noun

Words Nearby knowledge Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use knowledge in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for knowledge


/ (ˈnɒlɪdʒ) /

  1. the facts, feelings or experiences known by a person or group of people

  2. the state of knowing

  1. awareness, consciousness, or familiarity gained by experience or learning

  2. erudition or informed learning

  3. specific information about a subject

  4. sexual intercourse (obsolete except in the legal phrase carnal knowledge)

  5. come to one's knowledge to become known to one

  6. to my knowledge

    • as I understand it

    • as I know

  7. grow out of one's knowledge Irish to behave in a presumptuous or conceited manner

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with knowledge


see little knowledge is a dangerous thing; to the best of (one's knowledge).

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.