Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary




K, the eleventh letter of the English Alphabet, is borrowed from the Greeks, being the same character as the Greek kappa, answering to the oriental kaph. It represents a close articulation, formed by pressing the root of the tongue against the upper part of the mouth, with a depression of the lower jaw and opening of the teeth. It is usually denominated a guttural, but is more properly a palatal. Before all the vowels, it has one invariable sound, corresponding with that of c, before a, o, and u, as in keel, ken. In monosyllables, it is used after c, as in crack, check, deck, being necessary to exhibit a correct pronunciation in the derivatives, cracked, checked, decked, cracking, for without it, c, before the vowels e and i, would be sounded like s.

Formerly, k was added to c, in certain words of Latin origin, as in musick, publick, republick. But in modern practice, k is very properly omitted, being entirely superfluous, and the more properly, as it is never written in the derivatives, musical, publication, republican. It is retained in traffick, as in monosyllables, on account of the pronunciation of the derivatives, trafficked, trafficking.

K is silent before n, as in know, knife, knee. As a numeral, K stands for 250; and with a stroke over it, for 250,000. This character was not used by the ancient Romans, and rarely in the later ages of their empire. In the place of k, they used c, as in clino, for Greek. In the Teutonic dialects, this Greek letter is sometimes represented by h. [See H.]

KAALING, n. A bird, a species of starling, found in China.

KABBOS, n. A fish of a brown color, without scales.

KALE, n. [L. caulis.] Sea-cale, an esculent plant of the genus Crambe.

KALENDAR, n. [See Calendar.]

KALI, n. A plant, a species of Salsola, or glass-wort, the ashes of which are used in making glass. Hence alkali, which see.

KALIF, n. [See Calif.]

KALIFATE, [See Califate.]

KALMIA, n. The name of a genus of evergreen shrubs, natives of N. America, called laurel, ivy-bush, calico-bush, etc.

KAM, a. Crooked. [Not used.]

KAN, KAUN, KHAN, n. In Persia, an officer answering to a governor in Europe or America. Among the Tartars, a chief or prince. [See Khan.]

KANGAROO, n. A singular animal found in New Holland, resembling in some respects the opossum. It belongs to the genus Didelphis. It has a small head, neck and shoulders, the body increasing in thickness to the rump. The fore legs are very short, useless in walking, but used for digging or bringing food to the mouth. The hind legs, which are long, are used in moving, particularly in leaping.

KAOLIN, n. A species of earth or variety of clay, used as one of the two ingredients in the oriental porcelain. The other ingredient is called in China petunse. Its color is white, with a shade of gray, yellow or red.

KARAGANE, n. A species of gray fox found in the Russian empire.

KARPHOLITE, n. [Gr. straw, and a stone.]

A mineral recently discovered. It has a fibrous structure and a yellow color.

KATA, n. In syria, a fowl of the grous kind.

KAW, v.i. [from the sound.] To cry as a raven, crow or rook.

KAW, n. The cry of the rave, crow or rook.

KAWN, n. In Turkey, a public inn.


1. A nine-pin, a kettle-pin; sometimes written keel.

2. A kind of play in Scotland, in which nine holes ranged in threes, are made in the ground, and an iron ball rolled in among them.

KECK, v.i. To heave the stomach; to reach, as in an effort to vomit. [Little used.]

KECK, n. A reaching or heaving of the stomach.

KECKLE, v.t. To wind old rope round a cable to preserve its surface from being fretted, or to wind iron chains round a cable to defend it from the friction of a rocky bottom, or from the ice.

KECKSY, n. [L. cicuta.] Hemlock; a hollow jointed plant. [Not used in America.]

KECKY, a. Resembling a kex.

1. An Indian scepter.

KEDGE, n. [allied probably to cag and keg.] A small anchor, used to keep a ship steady when riding in a harbor or river, and particularly at the turn of the tide, to keep her clear of her bower anchor, also to remove her from one part of a harbor to another, being carried out in a boat and let go, as in warping or kedging. [Sometimes written kedger.]

KEDGE, v.t. To warp, as a ship; to move by means of a kedge, as in a river.

KEDLACK, n. A weed that grows among wheat and rye; charlock. [I believe not used in America.]

KEE, plu. of cow. [Local in England and not used in America.]

KEECH, n. A mass or lump. [Not in use.]

KEEL, n.

1. The principal timber in a ship, extending from stem to stern at the bottom, and supporting the whole frame.

2. A low flat-bottomed vessel, used in the river Tyne, to convey coals from Newcastle for loading the colliers.

3. In botany, the lower petal of a papilionaceous corol, inclosing the stamens and pistil.

False keel, a strong thick piece of timber, bolted to the bottom of the keel, to preserve it from injury.

On an even keel, in a level or horizontal position.

KEEL, v.t. To cool.
KEEL, v.t. To plow with a keel; to navigate.

1. To turn up the keel; to show the bottom.

To keel the pot, in Ireland, to scum it.

KEELAGE, n. Duty paid for a ship entering Hartlepool, Eng.

KEELED, a. In botany, carinated; having a longitudinal prominence on the back; as a keeled leaf, calyx or nectary.

KEELFAT, n. A cooler; a vessel in which liquor is set for cooling. [Not used.]

KEELHAUL, v.t. To haul under the keel of a ship. Keelhauling is a punishment inflicted in the Dutch navy for certain offenses. The offender is suspended by a rope from one yard arm, with weights on his legs, and a rope fastened to him, leading under the ship’s bottom to the opposite yard arm, and being let fall into the water, he is drawn under the ship’s bottom and raised on the other side.

KEELING, n. A kind of small cod, of which stock fish is made.

KEELSON, n. kel’son. A piece of timber in a ship, laid on the middle of the floor timbers over the keel, fastened with long bolts and clinched, and thus binding the floor timbers to the keel.

KEEN, a.

1. Eager; vehement; as hungry curs too keen at the sport.

The sheep were so keen on the acorns--

2. Eager; sharp; as a keen appetite.

3. Sharp; having a very fine edge; as a keen razor, or a razor with a keen edge. We say a keen edge, but a sharp point.

4. Piercing; penetrating; severe; applied to cold or to wind; as a keen wind; the cold is very keen.

5. Bitter; piercing; acrimonious; as keen satire or sarcasm.

Good father cardinal, cry thou amen,

To my keen curses.

KEEN, v.t. To sharpen. [Unusual.]

KEENLY, adv. Eagerly; vehemently.

1. Sharply; severely; bitterly.

KEENNESS, n. Eagerness; vehemence; as the keenness of hunger.

1. Sharpness; fineness of edge; as the keenness of a razor.

2. The quality of piercing; rigor; sharpness; as the keenness of the air or of cold.

3. Asperity; acrimony; bitterness; as the keenness of satire, invective or sarcasm.

4. Acuteness; sharpness; as the keenness of wit.

KEEP, v.t. pret. and pp. kept. [L. habeo, and capio.]

1. To hold; to retain in one’s power or possession; not to lose or part with; as, to keep a house or a farm; to keep any thing in the memory, mind or heart.

2. To have in custody for security or preservation.

The crown of Stephanus, first king of Hungary, was always kept in the castle of Vicegrade.

3. To preserve; to retain.

The Lord God, merciful and gracious, keeping mercy for thousands-- Exodus 34:6, 7.

4. To preserve from falling or from danger; to protect; to guard or sustain.

And behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee. Genesis 28:15; Luke 4:10.

5. To hold or restrain from departure; to detain.

--That I may know what keeps me here with you.

6. To tend; to have the care of.

And the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden, to dress it and to keep it. Genesis 2:15.

7. To tend; to feed; to pasture; as, to keep a flock of sheep or a herd of cattle in a yard or in a field. He keeps his horses on oats or on hay.

8. To preserve in any tenor or state. Keep a stiff rein.

Keep the constitution sound.

9. To regard; to attend to.

While the stars and course of heaven I keep--

10. To hold in any state; as, to keep in order.

11. To continue any state, course or action; as, to keep silence; to keep the same road or the same pace; to keep reading or talking; to keep a given distance.

12. To practice; to do or perform; to obey; to observe in practice; not to neglect or violate; as, to keep the laws, statutes or commandments of God.

13. To fulfill; to perform; as, to keep one’s word, promise or covenant.

14. To practice; to use habitually; as, to keep bad hours.

15. To copy carefully.

Her servant’s eyes were fix’d upon her face,

And as she moved or turned, her motions viewed,

Her measures kept, and step by step pursued.

16. To observe or solemnize.

17. To board; to maintain; to supply with necessaries of life. The men are kept at a moderate price per week.

18. To have in the house; to entertain; as, to keep lodgers.

19. To maintain; not to intermit; as, to keep watch or guard.

20. To hold in one’s own bosom; to confine to one’s own knowledge; not to disclose or communicate to others; not to betray; as, to keep a secret; to keep one’s own counsel.

21. To have in pay; as, to keep a servant.

To keep back, to reserve; to withhold; not to disclose or communicate.

I will keep nothing back from you. Jeremiah 42:4.

1. To restrain;; to prevent from advancing.

Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins. Psalm 19:13.

2. To reserve; to withhold; not to deliver. Acts 5:3.

To keep company with, to frequent the society of; to associate with. Let youth keep company with the wise and good.

To accompany; to go with; as, to keep company with one on a journey or voyage.

To keep down, to prevent from rising; not to lift or suffer to be raised.

To keep in, to prevent from escape; to hold in confinement.

1. To conceal; not to tell or disclose.

2. To restrain; to curb.

To keep off, to hinder from approach or attack; as, to keep off an enemy or an evil.

To keep under, to restrain; to hold in subjection; as, to keep under an antagonist or a conquered country; to keep under the appetites and passions.

To keep up, to maintain; to prevent from falling or diminution; as, to keep up the price of goods; to keep up one’s credit.

1. To maintain; to continue; to hinder from ceasing.

In joy, that which keeps up the action is the desire to continue it.

To keep out, to hinder from entering or taking possession.

To keep bed, to remain in bed without rising; to be confined to one’s bed.

To keep house, to maintain a family state.

His income enables him to keep house.

1. To remain in the house; to be confined.

His feeble health obliges him to keep house.

To keep from, to restrain; to prevent approach.

To keep a school, to maintain or support it; as, the town or its inhabitants keep ten schools; more properly, to govern and instruct or teach a school, as a preceptor.

KEEP, v.i. To remain in any state; as, to keep at a distance; to keep aloft; to keep near; to keep in the house; to keep before or behind; to keep in favor; to keep out of company, or out of reach.

1. To last; to endure; not to perish or be impaired. Seek for winter’s use apples that will keep.

If the malt is not thoroughly dried, the ale it makes will not keep.

2. To lodge; to dwell; to reside for a time.

Knock at the study, where, they say, he keeps.

To keep to, to adhere strictly; not to neglect or deviate from; as, to keep to old customs; to keep to a rule; to keep to one’s word or promise.

To keep on, to go forward; to proceed; to continue to advance.

To keep up, to remain unsubdued; or not to be confined to one’s bed.

In popular language, this word signifies to continue; to repeat continually; not to cease.

KEEP, n. Custody; guard. [Little used.]

1. Colloquially, case; condition; as in good keep.

2. Guardianship; restraint. [Little used.]

3. A place of confinement; in old castles, the dungeon.

KEEPER, n. One who keeps; one that holds or has possession of any thing.

1. One who retains in custody; one who has the care of a prison and the custody of prisoners.

2. One who has the care of a park or other inclosure, or the custody of beasts; as the keeper of a park, a pound, or of sheep.

3. One who has the care, custody or superintendence of any thing.

In Great Britain, the keeper of the great seal, is a lord by his office, and one of the privy council. All royal grants, commissions and charters pass through his hands. He is constituted lord-keeper by the delivery of the great seal. The keeper of the privy seal is also a lord by his office, and a member of the privy council.

KEEPERSHIP, n. The office of a keeper. [Little used.]

KEEPING, ppr. Holding; restraining; preserving; guarding; protecting; performing.

KEEPING, n. A holding; restraint; custody; guard; preservation.

1. Feed; fodder. The cattle have good keeping.

2. In painting, a representation of objects in the manner they appear to the eye at different distance from it.

KEEPSAKE, n. Any thing kept, or given to be kept for the sake of the giver; a token of friendship.

KEFFEKIL, n. A stone, white or yellow, which hardens in the fire, and of which Turkey pipes are made.

KEG, n. A small cask or barrel; written more correctly cag.

KELL, n. A sort of pottage. [Not used in America.]

KELL, n. The caul or omentum. [See Caul, the usual orthography of the word.]

1. The chrysalis of the caterpillar.

KELP, n. The calcined ashes of sea weed, used in the manufacture of glass. This is a dark color alkaline substance, which, in a furnace, vitrifies and becomes transparent.

KELPY, n. An imaginary spirit of the waters, in the form of a horse. [Local and vulgar.]

KELSON. [See Keelson.]

KELTER, n. The phrase, he is not in kelter, signifies, he is not in a proper dress or equipage, or not in readiness.

KEMB, v.t. To comb, which see. Kemb is an obsolete orthography.

KEMELIN, n. A tub; a brewer’s vessel. [Not in use.]

KEN, v.t. [L. canus, white, caneo, to be white, and this with L. cano, to sing, canto, Eng. to cant, to chant; L. gigno.]

1. To see at a distance; to descry.

We ken them from afar.

2. To know; to understand. [This verb is used chiefly in poetry.]

KEN, v.i. To look round.
KEN, n. View; reach of sight.

Coasting they kept the land within their ken.

KENDAL-GREEN, n. A species of green cloth made of kendal.

KENNEL, n. [L. canis, a dog.]

1. A house or cot for dogs, or for a pack of hounds.

2. A pack of hounds or their cry.

3. The hole of a fox or other beast; a haunt.

KENNEL, n. [Eng. channel.]

1. The water-course of a street; a little canal or channel.

2. A puddle.

KENNEL, v.i. To lodge; to lie; to dwell; as a dog or a fox.

The dog kenneled in a hollow tree.

KENNEL, v.t. To keep or confine in a kennel.

KENNING, n. View, sight.

KENTLE, n. [L. centum.] In commerce, a hundred pounds in weight; as a kentle of fish. [It is written and pronounced also quintal.]

KENTLEDGE, n. In seamen’s language, pigs of iron for ballast laid on the floor of a ship.

KEPT, pret. and pp. of keep.

KERB-STONE, KIRB-STONE. [See Curb-stone.]

KERCHIEF, n. [contracted from coverchief.]

1. A head dress; a cloth to cover the head.

2. A cloth used in dress.

The word is now seldom used, except in its compound, handkerchief, and sometimes neckerchief.

KERCHIEFED, KERCHIEFT, a. Dressed; hooded; covered.

KERF, n. [Eng. to carve.] The cut of an ax, a saw, or other instrument; the notch or slit made in wood by cutting.

KERMES, n. In zoology, an insect produced in the excrescences of a species of small oak, or the body of an insect transformed into a grain, berry, or husk. This body is full of reddish juice, which is used in dyeing red. Hence the word crimson.

KERMES-MINERAL, n. A mineral substance, so called from its color. It is a precipitate of antimony, obtained by fusion with a fixed alkali and subsequent solution in boiling water, or by simple ebullition.

KERN, n. An Irish footman or foot-soldier.

1. In English laws, an idle person or vagabond.

KERN, n. A hand-mill consisting of two stones, one of which is turned by the hand; usually written quern, which see.

1. A churn.

KERN, v.i.

1. To harden, as corn in ripening.

2. To take the form of corns; to granulate.

KERN-BABY, n. [corn-baby.] An image dressed with corn, and carried before reapers to their harvest-home.


1. The edible substance contained in the shell of a nut.

2. Any thing included in a shell, husk or integument; a grain or corn; as a kernel of wheat or oats.

3. The seed of pulpy fruit; as the kernel of an apple.

4. The central part of any thing; a small mass around which other matter is concreted; a nucleus.

5. A hard concretion in the flesh.

KERNEL, v.i. To harden or ripen into kernels; as the seeds of plants.

KERNELLY, a. Full of kernels; resembling kernels.

KERSEY, n. A species of coarse woolen cloth; a coarse stuff made chiefly in Kent and Devonshire in England.

KERVE, v.t. To carve. [Not used.]

KERVER, n. A carver. [Not used.]

KESAR, n. [from Caesar.] An emperor.

KESTREL, CASTREL, n. A fowl of the genus Falco, or hawk kind; called also stannel and windhover. It builds in hollow oaks, and feeds on quails and other small birds.

KETCH, n. A vessel with two masts, a main and mizen-mast, usually from 100 to 250 tones burden. Ketches are generally used as yachts or as bomb-vessels. The latter are called bomb-ketches.

KETCHUP, n. A sauce. [See Catchup.]

KETTLE, n. A vessel of iron or other metal, with a wide mouth, usually without a cover, used for heating and boiling water or other liquor.

Among the Tartars, a kettle represents a family, or as many as feed from one kettle.

Among the Dutch, a battery of mortars sunk in the earth, is called a kettle.

KETTLE-DRUM, n. An instrument of martial music, composed of two basins of copper or brass, rounded at the bottom and covered with vellum or goat-skin.

KETTLE-DRUMMER, n. The man who beats the kettle-drum.

KETTLE-PINS, n. Nine pins; skittles.

KEVEL, n. In ships, a piece of timber serving to belay the sheets or great ropes by which the bottoms of the fore-sail and main-sail are extended.

KEX, n. Hemlock; the stem of the teasel; a dry stalk. [See Kecksy.]

KEY, n. ke. In a general sense, a fastener; that which fastens; as a piece of wood in the frame of a building, or in a chain, etc.

1. An instrument for shutting or opening a lock, by pushing the bolt one way or the other. Keys are of various forms, and fitted to the wards of the locks to which they belong.

2. An instrument by which something is screwed or turned; as the key of a watch or other chronometer.

3. The stone which binds an arch. [See Key-stone.]

4. In an organ or harpsichord, the key, or finger key is a little lever or piece in the fore part by which the instrument is played on by the fingers.

5. In music, the key, or key note, is the fundamental note or tone, to which the whole piece is accommodated, and with which it usually begins and always ends. There are two keys, one of the major, and one of the minor mode. Key sometimes signifies a scale or system of intervals.

6. An index, or that which serves to explain a cypher. Hence,

7. That which serves to explain any thing difficult to be understood.

8. In the Romish church, ecclesiastical jurisdiction, or the power of the pope, or the power of excommunicating or absolving.

9. A ledge or lay of ricks near the surface of the water.

10. The husk containing the seed of an ash.

KEY, n. A bank or wharf built on the side of a river or harbor, for the convenience of loading and unloading ships, and securing them in their stations. Hence keys are furnished with posts, rings, cranes, capstans, etc. It is sometimes written quay.

KEYAGE, n. Money paid for the use of a key or quay.

KEY-COLD, a. Lifeless. [Not in use.]

KEYED, a. Furnished with keys; as a keyed instrument.

1. Set to a key, as a tune.

KEYHOLE, n. A hole or aperture in a door or lock, for receiving a key.

KEYSTONE, n. The stone on the top or middle of an arch or vault, which being wider at the top than at the bottom, enters like a wedge and binds the work; properly, the fastening-stone.

KHAN, n. kaun. In Asia, a governor; a king; a prince; a chief. In Persia, the word denotes the governor of a province; among the Tartars, it is equivalent to king or prince.

1. An inn.

KHANATE, n. kaun’ate. The dominion or jurisdiction of a khan.

KIBE, n. [This word has the elements of chap, gap, gape.]

A chap or crack in the flesh occasioned by cold; an ulcerated chilblain; as in the heels.

KIBED, a. Chapped; cracked with cold; affected with chilblains; as kibed heels.

KIBY, a. Affected with kibes.

KICK, v.t. To strike with the foot; as, a horse kicks a servant; a man kicks a dog.

KICK, v.i. To practice striking with the foot or feet; as a horse accustomed to kick.

1. To thrust out the foot or feet with violence, either in wantonness, resistance, anger or contempt; to manifest opposition.

Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice? 1 Samuel 2:29.

Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked. Deuteronomy 32:15.

It is hard for thee to kick against the goads. Acts 9:5.

KICK, n. A blow with the foot or feet; a striking or thrust of the foot.

KICKED, pp. Struck with the foot or feet.

KICKER, n. One that kicks.

KICKING, ppr. Striking with the foot; thrusting out the foot with violence.

KICKING, n. The act of striking with the foot, or of yerking the foot with violence. What cannot be effected by kicking, may sometimes be done by coaxing.


1. Something fantastical or uncommon, or something that has no particular name.

2. A dish so changed by cooking, that it can scarcely be known.

KICKSHOE, n. A dancer, in contempt; a caperer; a buffoon. [A word used only by Milton.]

KID, n. [L. hoedus; vulgar.]

1. A young goat.

2. A faggot; a bundle of heath and furze.

KID, v.t. or i. To bring forth a young goat.

1. To make into a bundle, as faggots.

KID, v.t. To show, discover or make known.

KIDDER, n. An engrosser of corn, or one who carries corn, provisions and merchandize about the country for sale.

KIDDLE, n. A kind of wear in a river for catching fish; corruptly pronounced kittle.