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From Middle English knowen, from Old English cnāwan (to know, perceive, recognise), from Proto-Germanic *knēaną (to know), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵneh₃- (to know). Cognate with Scots knaw (to know, recognise), Icelandic kná (to know, know how to, be able).



know (third-person singular simple present knows, present participle knowing, simple past knew or knowed (dialect), past participle known, knowen (archaic), or knowed (dialect))

  1. (transitive) To be certain or sure about.
    I know that I’m right and you’re wrong.  He knew something terrible was going to happen.
    • William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
      O, that a man might know / The end of this day's business ere it come!
    • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
      Know how sublime a thing it is / To suffer and be strong.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 1, Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      I stumbled along through the young pines and huckleberry bushes. Pretty soon I struck into a sort of path that, I cal'lated, might lead to the road I was hunting for. It twisted and turned, and, the first thing I knew, made a sudden bend around a bunch of bayberry scrub and opened out into a big clear space like a lawn.
  2. (transitive) To be acquainted or familiar with; to have encountered.
    I know your mother, but I’ve never met your father.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 1, The Celebrity:
      I was about to say that I had known the Celebrity from the time he wore kilts. But I see I will have to amend that, because he was not a celebrity then, nor, indeed, did he achieve fame until some time after I left New York for the West.
  3. To recognize; to distinguish; to discern the character of.
    to know a person's face or figure
    • Bible, Matthew vii. 16
      Ye shall know them by their fruits.
    • William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
      To know / Faithful friend from flattering foe.
    • Thomas Flatman (1635-1688)
      At nearer view he thought he knew the dead.
    • 2013 September-October, Henry Petroski, “The Evolution of Eyeglasses”, American Scientist: 
      The ability of a segment of a glass sphere to magnify whatever is placed before it was known around the year 1000, when the spherical segment was called a reading stone, essentially what today we might term a frameless magnifying glass or plain glass paperweight.
  4. (transitive, also intransitive followed by about or, dialectally, from) To have knowledge of; to have memorised information, data, or facts about.
    He knows more about 19th century politics than one would expect.
    She knows where I live.  Let me do it. I know how it works.
    • 2014 April 21, “Subtle effects”, The Economist, volume 411, number 8884: 
      Manganism has been known about since the 19th century, when miners exposed to ores containing manganese, a silvery metal, began to totter, slur their speech and behave like someone inebriated.
  5. (transitive) To understand (a subject).
    She knows chemistry better than anybody else.
    • 2013 August 3, “The machine of a new soul”, The Economist, volume 408, number 8847: 
      The yawning gap in neuroscientists’ understanding of their topic is in the intermediate scale of the brain’s anatomy. Science has a passable knowledge of how individual nerve cells, known as neurons, work. It also knows which visible lobes and ganglia of the brain do what. But how the neurons are organised in these lobes and ganglia remains obscure.
  6. (transitive) To be informed about.
    Do you know that Michelle and Jack are getting divorced? ― Yes, I know.
  7. (transitive) To experience.
    Their relationship knew ups and downs.
  8. (transitive, archaic, biblical) To have sexual relations with.

Usage notes[edit]

The dialect verb form is inflected in a non-standard way. In addition the different simple past and past, the form knows is used for both the singular and plural of all persons of the present tense: "I knows", "you knows", "he knows", "we knows", "you knows", and "they knows".

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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


know (plural knows)

  1. knowledge

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From Proto-Celtic *knuwjā- (compare Welsh cnau (nuts), Old Breton cnou and Modern Breton kraoñ (nuts)).



know pl (singulative knowen or knofen)

  1. nuts

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