Kenning Examples


A kenning is an expression that replaces a noun or the name of a person that has metaphorical meaning. Usually, the kenning is more than one word, and it is usually hyphenated-as it is an adjective for the person or thing that is replaced.

Examples of Kenning:

Ankle-biter = young child

Bookword = someone who likes to read

Four-eyes = someone who wears glasses

Tree huger = someone who cares for the environment

Motor mouth = someone who talks a lot

Head-turner = a pretty or handsome person

Bean counter = accountant

Examples of Kenning in Literature

From Beowulf

But the warrior found

the light-of-battle was loath to bite,

to harm the heart: its hard edge failed

the noble at need, yet had known of old

strife hand to hand, and had helmets cloven,

doomed men's fighting-gear. First time, this,

for the gleaming blade that its glory fell.

Light-of-battle = sword

Fighting-gear = armor

From "The Seafarer" by Ezra Pound

Over the whale's acre, would wander wide

Eager and ready, the crying lone-flyer,

Whets for the whale-path the heart irresistibly.

Whale's acre and whale-path = ocean

Lone-flyer = the seafarer

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Grammar Examples