Kennedy Look up Kennedy at
Irish surname, said to be from Old Irish cinneide "ugly head."
kennel (n.) Look up kennel at
c. 1300, from Anglo-French *kenil, Old French chenil, from Vulgar Latin *canile, from Latin canem (nominative canis) "dog" (see canine (n.)). With suffix as in ovile "sheepfold" from ovus, equile "horse-stable" from equus, etc. As a verb, 1550s, from the noun.
Kenneth Look up Kenneth at
masc. proper name, Scottish, from Gaelic Caioneach, literally "handsome, comely."
kenning (n.) Look up kenning at
Old English cenning "procreation; declaration in court," present participle of ken (v.). From early 14c. in senses "sign, token; teaching, instruction;" c. 1400 as "mental cognition." From 1871 as "periphrastic expression in early Germanic poetry;" in this sense it probably is from a modern learned use of Old Norse cognate verb kenna "to know, to recognize, to feel or perceive; to call, to name (in a formal poetic metaphor)."
In the whole poem of Beowulf there are scarcely half a dozen of them [similes], and these of the simplest character, such as comparing a ship to a bird. Indeed, such a simple comparison as this is almost equivalent to the more usual "kenning" (as it is called in Icelandic), such as "brimfugol," where, instead of comparing the ship to a bird, the poet simply calls it a sea-bird, preferring the direct assertion to the indirect comparison. [Henry Sweet, "Sketches of the History of Anglo-Saxon Poetry," London, 1871]
keno (n.) Look up keno at
game of chance (akin to bingo), 1814, American English, probably from French quine "five winning numbers in a lottery," from Latin quini "five each," distributive of quinque "five" (see five). The numbers are arranged in rows of five.
keno- Look up keno- at
before vowels, ken-, word-forming element meaning "empty," from comb. form of Greek kenos "empty," from PIE root *ken- (3) "empty."
kenosis (n.) Look up kenosis at
from Greek kenosis "an emptying," from kenoein "to empty," from PIE *ken- (3) "empty." From Phil. ii:7. Related: Kenotic.
Kent Look up Kent at
Old English, from Latin Canticum, Greek Kantion (51 B.C.E.), an ancient Celtic name often explained as "coastal district," but possibly "land of the hosts or armies." Related: Kentish.
Kentucky Look up Kentucky at
U.S. state, earlier a county of Virginia, organized 1776; the name is of Iroquois or Shawnee origin, perhaps a Wyandot (Iroquoian) word meaning "meadow" (compare Seneca geda'geh "at the field"); the original use in English seems to have been the river name; the native use perhaps was first in reference to a village in what now is Clark County known in Shawnee as Eskippakithiki. Related: Kentuckian.
Kenya Look up Kenya at
African nation, named for Mount Kenya, which probably is a shortening of Kikuyu Kirinyaga, from kere nyaga, literally "white mountain" (though just south of the equator, it is snowcapped). Related: Kenyan.
kepi (n.) Look up kepi at
soldier's peaked cap, 1861, from French képi, from German Swiss käppi, diminutive of German Kappe "a cap," from Late Latin cappa "hood, cap" (see cap (n.)).
kept Look up kept at
past tense of keep (v.).
ker- Look up ker- at
U.S. slang prefix, by 1836 as che-, 1843 as ker-, possibly from influence of German or Dutch ge-, past participial prefix; or ultimately echoic of the sound of the fall of some heavy body.
keratin (n.) Look up keratin at
basic substance of horns, nails, feathers, etc., 1847, from Greek keras (genitive keratos) "horn" (see kerato-) + chemical suffix -in (2).
kerato- Look up kerato- at
before vowels, kerat-, word-forming element meaning "horn, horny," from Greek keras (genitive keratos) "horn," from PIE *ker- (1) "horn, head" (see horn (n.)).
kerb (n.) Look up kerb at
1660s, a variant of curb (n.). The preferred British English spelling in certain specialized senses, especially "edging of stone on a pavement" (1805).
kerchief (n.) Look up kerchief at
early 13c., kovrechief "piece of cloth used to cover part of the head," especially a woman's headcloth or veil, from Anglo-French courchief, Old French couvrechief, literally "cover head," from couvrir "to cover" (see cover (v.)) + chief "head" (see chief). From late 14c. as "piece of cloth used about the person" generally, and from c. 1400 as "piece of cloth carried in the hand" to wipe the face, etc. (compare handkerchief).
kerfuffle (n.) Look up kerfuffle at
"row, disturbance," 1973, said to have been used c. 1930 in Canadian English, ultimately from Scottish curfuffle.
kermes (n.) Look up kermes at
"shield louse," c. 1600 of the insect preparation used as a dye, etc.; 1590s of the species of oak on which the insects live, from Medieval Latin cremesinus (also source of French kermès, Italian chermes, Spanish carmes), from Arabic qirmiz "kermes," from Sanskrit krmi-ja a compound meaning "(red dye) produced by a worm."

The Sanskrit compound is krmih "worm" (from PIE root *kwrmi- "worm" and cognate with Lithuanian kirmis, Old Irish cruim, Albanian krimp "worm") + -ja- "produced" (from PIE *gene-; see genus). The insect lives in the Levant and southern Europe on a species of oak (kermes oak). They were esteemed from ancient times as a source of red and scarlet dye. The dye is harvested from pregnant females, which in that state resemble small roundish grains about the size of peas and cling immobile to the tree on which they live.

From this fact kermes dye was, for a long time, mistaken in Europe as being from a seed or excrescence of the tree, and the word for it in Greek was kokkos, literally "a grain, seed" (see cocco-). This was passed to Latin as coccum, coccus "berry [sic] yielding scarlet dye," in late use "scarlet color, scarlet garment." So important was kermes (coccus) as a commercial source of scarlet dye that derivatives of the name for it have displaced the original word for "red" in many languages, such as Welsh coch (from Latin), Modern Greek kokkinos. Compare also crimson (n.). Kermes dyes have been found in burial wrappings in Anglo-Scandinavian York, but the use of kermes dyes seems to have been lost in Europe from the Dark Ages until early 15c. It fell out of use again with the introduction of cochineal (the word for which might itself be from coccus) from the New World.
Cloths dyed with kermes are of a deep red colour; and though much inferior in brilliancy to the scarlet cloths dyed with real Mexican cochineal, they retain the colour better and are less liable to stain. The tapestries of Brussels and other parts of Flanders, which have scarcely lost any thing of their original brilliancy, even after a lapse of 200 years, were all dyed with kermes. [W.T. Brande, "Dictionary of Science, Literature, & Art," London, 1842]
kern (n.) Look up kern at
1680s, "part of a metal type projecting beyond the body," as the head of an -f- or the tail of a -j-, from French carne "projecting angle, quill of a pen," from Latin cardinem "hinge."
kernel (n.) Look up kernel at
Old English cyrnel "seed, kernel, pip," from Proto-Germanic *kurnilo- (cognates: 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.
kerosene (n.) Look up kerosene at
1852, coined irregularly by Canadian geologist Abraham Gesner (1797-1864), who discovered how to distill it c. 1846, from Greek keros "wax" (see cere) + chemical suffix -ene. So called because it contains paraffin (hence the British English name, paraffin oil).
kerygma (n.) Look up kerygma at
"preaching," 1889, from Greek kerygma "proclamation, preaching," from keryssein "to proclaim," related to keryx "herald."
kestrel (n.) Look up kestrel at
kind of falcon, c. 1600, earlier castrell (15c.), probably from Middle French cresserelle, which apparently is related to crecerelle "rattle," from Latin crepitacillium "small rattle," diminutive of crepitaculum "noisy bell, rattle," from crepitare "to crackle, rattle;" possibly from the old belief that their noise frightened away other hawks.
ketamine (n.) Look up ketamine at
1966, from keto-, comb. form of ketone, + amine.
ketch (n.) Look up ketch at
kind of small sailing vessel, 1650s, earlier catch (mid-15c.), cache (late 14c.), probably from Middle English cacchen "to capture, ensnare, chase" (see catch (v.)). Compare the sense development in yacht.
ketchup (n.) Look up ketchup at
1711, said to be from Malay kichap, but probably not original to Malay. It might have come from Chinese koechiap "brine of fish," which, if authentic, perhaps is from the Chinese community in northern Vietnam [Terrien de Lacouperie, in "Babylonian and Oriental Record," 1889, 1890]. Catsup (earlier catchup, 1680s) is a failed attempt at Englishing, still in use in U.S., influenced by cat and sup.

Originally a fish sauce, the word came to be used in English for a wide variety of spiced gravies and sauces; "Apicius Redivivus; or, the Cook's Oracle," by William Kitchiner, London, 1817, devotes 7 pages to recipes for different types of catsup (his book has 1 spelling of ketchup, 72 of catsup), including walnut, mushroom, oyster, cockle and mussel, tomata, white (vinegar and anchovies figure in it), cucumber, and pudding catsup. Chambers's Encyclopaedia (1870) lists mushroom, walnut, and tomato ketchup as "the three most esteemed kinds." Tomato ketchup emerged c. 1800 in U.S. and predominated from early 20c.
ketone (n.) Look up ketone at
chemical group, 1851, from German keton, coined in 1848 by German chemist Leopold Gmelin (1788-1853) from German Aketon, from French acétone (see acetone). Its combining form is keto-.
ketosis (n.) Look up ketosis at
1900, from keto-, comb. form of ketone, + -osis.
kettle (n.) Look up kettle at
Old English cetil (Mercian), from Proto-Germanic *katilaz (compare Old Saxon ketel, Old Frisian zetel, Middle Dutch ketel, Old High German kezzil, German Kessel), probably from Latin catillus "deep pan or dish for cooking," diminutive of catinus "bowl, dish, pot." One of the few Latin loan-words in Proto-Germanic, along with *punda- "measure of weight or money" (see pound (n.1)) and a word relating to "merchant" that yielded cheap (adj.). "[I]t is striking that all have something to do with trade" [Don Ringe, "From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic," Oxford 2006]. Spelling with a -k- (c. 1300) probably is from influence of Old Norse cognate ketill. The smaller sense of "tea-kettle" is attested by 1769.
kettledrum (n.) Look up kettledrum at
1540s, from kettle + drum (n.).
Kevlar Look up Kevlar at
registered trademark (DuPont) for a synthetic fiber developed there c. 1965.
kew Look up kew at
1939, as a clipped form of thank you.
kewl Look up kewl at
1996 as a representation of a casual pronunciation of cool.
kewpie (n.) Look up kewpie at
1909, American English, coined by their illustrator, Rose C. O'Neill (1874-1944), as an altered form of a diminutive of Cupid.
kex (n.) Look up kex at
"dry, hollow plant stem," late 14c., of uncertain origin. Klein says ultimately from Latin cicuta "hemlock."
key (n.1) Look up key at
"metal piece that works a lock," from Old English cæg "key," of unknown origin, with no certain cognates other than Old Frisian kei. Perhaps related to Middle Low German keie "lance, spear" on notion of "tool to cleave with," from Proto-Germanic *ki- "to cleaver, split" (cognates: German Keil "wedge," Gothic us-kijans "come forth," said of seed sprouts, keinan "to germinate"). But Liberman writes, "The original meaning of *kaig-jo- was presumably '*pin with a twisted end.' Words with the root *kai- followed by a consonant meaning 'crooked, bent; twisted' are common only in the North Germanic languages." Modern pronunciation is a northern variant predominating from c. 1700; earlier it was often spelled and pronounced kay.

Figurative sense of "that which serves to open or explain" was in Old English; meaning "that which holds together other parts" is from 1520s. As "answer to a test," it is from chess, short for key move, "first move in a solution to a set problem." Musical sense of "tone, note" is mid-15c., but modern sense of "scale" is 1580s, probably as a translation of Latin clavis or French clef (see clef; also see keynote). Sense of "mechanism on a musical instrument" in English is c. 1500, probably also suggested by clavis. As a verb meaning "to scratch (a car's paint job) with a key" it is recorded by 1986.
key (n.2) Look up key at
"low island," 1690s, from Spanish cayo "shoal, reef," from Taino cayo "small island;" spelling influenced by Middle English key "wharf" (c. 1300), from Old French kai "sand bank" (see quay).
keyboard (n.) Look up keyboard at
1819, from key (n.1) in sense of "mechanism of a musical instrument" + board (n.1). Originally of pianos, organs, etc., extended to other machines 1846. The verb is first recorded 1926 (implied in keyboarding).
keyhole (n.) Look up keyhole at
1590s, from key (n.1) + hole (n.).
Keynesian Look up Keynesian at
1937 (adj.), 1942 (n.), from name of British economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946).
keynote (n.) Look up keynote at
also key-note, "lowest note of a musical scale, basis of a scale," 1776, from key (n.1) in sense of "musical scale" + note (n.). Figurative sense of "leading idea" is from 1783; keynote address is 1905, American English.
keypad (n.) Look up keypad at
1975, from key (n.1) + pad (n.).
keypunch (n.) Look up keypunch at
1933, from keyboard (which operated it) + punch (v.), which is what it did to the cards inserted in it to record date.
keystone (n.) Look up keystone at
"stone in the middle of an arch, which holds up the others," 1630s, from key (n.1) in figurative sense of "that which holds together other parts" + stone. Figurative sense is from 1640s. Pennsylvania was called the Keystone State because of its position (geographical and political) in the original American confederation, between northern states and southern ones. Keystone cops were the bumbling police in the slapstick silent movies produced by Keystone Company, formed by Canadian-born U.S. film director Mack Sennett (1884-1960) in 1912.
keystroke (n.) Look up keystroke at
1902, from key (n.1) + stroke (n.). Not in common use until the rise of computers. As a verb, by 1966 (implied in keystroking).
keyword (n.) Look up keyword at
also key-word, 1807, from key (n.1) + word (n.). Originally in reference to codes and ciphers.
Keziah Look up Keziah at
fem. proper name, biblical daughter of Job, from Hebrew Qetzi'ah, literally "cassia," the aromatic tree that produces cinnamon.
KGB Look up KGB at
national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 to 1991, attested from 1955 in English, initialism (acronym) of Russian Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti "Committee for State Security."
khaki (n.) Look up khaki at
"dust-colored cloth," 1857, from Urdu khaki, literally "dusty," from khak "dust," from Persian. First introduced in uniforms of British cavalry in India (the Guide Corps, 1846); widely adopted for camouflage purposes in the Boer Wars (1899-1902). As an adjective from 1863. Related: Khakis.