Definition of ken in English:



  • [in singular] One's range of knowledge or understanding.

    ‘politics are beyond my ken’
    • ‘Maybe recognition of such a state is simply beyond his ken after all these years.’
    • ‘You know also that forces beyond our ken are always at work.’
    • ‘How anyone can take a steady daily diet of meetings is beyond my ken.’
    • ‘We sense a mathematical basis for the design, but one that lies beyond our ken.’
    • ‘It's beyond my ken, but for those in the know there's an accompanying set of statistics, ranging from water absorption rates to frost resistance.’
    • ‘‘I think this is a bit beyond my ken,’ Updike says generously, before sheepishly moving on.’
    • ‘Moreover, the consequences lie far into the future and spread across the entire globe: way beyond their temporal and spatial kens.’
    • ‘Yes, for me too it was something totally different - beyond my ken.’
    • ‘That was 1990, and the friend and his friends were witty and sparkly, and totally convinced me that Aucklanders were smart and sophisticated and ironic beyond my ken.’
    • ‘How he can handle such pain and fear is beyond my ken.’
    • ‘His actions seem senseless, but by the glint in his eye, you know he's operating with a logic beyond your ken.’
    • ‘There were powers stirring this night, strange things beyond his ken.’
    • ‘The morons do not even protect the exposed steel with paint - and something as simple and old-fashioned as using galvanized bolts in the first place is clearly way beyond their ken.’
    • ‘Total awareness is a discipline beyond the ken of us ordinary mortals.’
    • ‘Such allusions, which portray Horace's awareness of politico-religious matters, can be said to be beyond the ken of a philological approach.’
    • ‘Is it possible that in some far-off galaxy as yet beyond our ken creatures very different but perhaps far superior to us in intelligence live in a civilisation of their own?’
    • ‘The sport of homing-pigeon racing has been developing for over a century, and they have been used to carry messages for longer, but how the birds navigate is still beyond our ken.’
    • ‘Concepts such as dollar cost averaging and compound interest are way beyond the ken of your average punter because they're never explained in the popular press.’
    • ‘The visitor should experience a little vertigo, because something is going on that is beyond his ken.’
    • ‘If there is a better job than travelling the globe at someone else's expense and being paid handsomely for it, then it is beyond our ken.’
    knowledge, awareness, perception, understanding, grasp, comprehension, realization, apprehension, appreciation, consciousness, recognition, notice
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[WITH OBJECT]Scottish, Northern english
  • 1 Know.

    ‘d'ye ken anyone who can boast of that?’
    • ‘But our Ancestors kenned that some places are more lively, more powerful than other places, and this potency is explored through the medium of sacred geometry, through ley lines and stone circles.’
    • ‘Just when you think you ken everything there is to ken about living in Scotland, you get a rude awakening.’
    be acquainted with, have met, be familiar with
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    1. 1.1Recognize; identify.
      ‘that's him—d'ye ken him?’
      identify, place, know, know again, pick out, put a name to
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Old English cennan ‘tell, make known’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch and German kennen know, be acquainted with, from an Indo-European root shared by can and know. Current senses of the verb date from Middle English; the noun from the mid 16th century.