Word of the Day Archive
Tuesday October 9, 2001
1. knowledge, understanding, or cognizance; mental perception: an idea beyond one's ken.
2. range of sight or vision.
1. Chiefly Scot. a. to know, have knowledge of or about, or be acquainted with (a person or thing). b. 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. a. to declare, acknowledge, or confess (something). b. to teach, direct, or guide (someone).
5. British Dialect. a. to have knowledge of something. b. to understand.
…I only loathed myself the more, as the foul corse was borne beyond my ken, that my lot was not even as that of him who had perished in the deep waters.
-- Julia Pardoe, The Romance of the Harem, 1839
I drew out my glass to take a nearer ken, when such beauties shot from one in particular that fired my soul and ran thrilling through every vein.
-- Georgiana Cavendish, The Sylph, 1778
Ken comes from the Old English cennan meaning "to make known, declare." It is related to the common English word "can." Today this verb is chiefly used in Scotland.