a conventional poetic phrase used for or in addition to the usual name of a person or thing, especially in Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon verse, as “a wave traveler” for “a boat.”

1880–85; < Old Norse; see ken, -ing1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
kenning (ˈkɛnɪŋ)
a conventional metaphoric name for something, esp in Old Norse and Old English poetry, such as Old English bānhūs (bone house) for "body"
[C14: from Old Norse, from kenna; see ken]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

"to know," Scot. dial., from O.E. cennan "make known, declare, acknowledge," originally "make to know," causative of cunnan "to become acquainted with, to know" (see can (v.)). The noun meaning "range of sight" (1590) is a nautical abbreviation of kenning.

"house where thieves meet," 1567, vagabonds' slang, probably a shortening of kennel.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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