know

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

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).

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

know (third-person singular simple present knows, present participle knowing, simple past knew, past participle known)

  1. (transitive) To perceive the truth or factuality of; to be certain of or that.
    I know that I’m right and you’re wrong.   He knew something terrible was going to happen.
  2. (transitive) To be aware of; to be cognizant of.
    I knew he was upset, but I didn't understand why.
    • 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.
    Did you know Michelle and Jack were getting divorced? ― Yes, I knew.
    She knows where I live.
  3. (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.
  4. (transitive) To experience.
    Their relationship knew ups and downs.
    • 1991, Irvin Haas, Historic Homes of the American Presidents, page 155:
      The Truman family knew good times and bad, []
  5. (transitive) To distinguish, to discern, particularly by contrast or comparison; to recognize the nature of.
    to know a person's face or figure   to know right from wrong   I wouldn't know one from the other.
    • Bible, Matthew 7.16:
      Ye shall know them by their fruits.
    • 1980, Armored and mechanized brigade operations, page 3-29:
      Flares do not know friend from foe and so illuminate both. Changes in wind direction can result in flare exposure of the attacker while defenders hide in the shadows.
  6. (transitive) To recognize as the same (as someone or something previously encountered) after an absence or change.
    • c. 1645–1688, Thomas Flatman, Translation of Part of Petronius Arbiter's Satyricon:
      At nearer view he thought he knew the dead, / And call'd the wretched man to mind.
    • 1818, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frakenstein:
      Ernest also is so much improved, that you would hardly know him: []
  7. (followed by how and a verb) To understand from experience or study.
    Let me do it. I know how it works.   She knows how to swim.
  8. (transitive) To understand (a subject).
    She knows chemistry better than anybody else.   Know your enemy and know yourself.
    • 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.
  9. (transitive, archaic, biblical) To have sexual relations with.
  10. (intransitive) To have knowledge; to have information, be informed.
    It is vital that he not know.   She knew of our plan.
    He knows about 19th century politics.
    • 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.
  11. (intransitive) To be or become aware or cognizant.
    Did you know Michelle and Jack were getting divorced? ― Yes, I knew.
  12. (intransitive, obsolete) To be acquainted (with another person).

Quotations[edit]

  • 1599, William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, scene 1:
    O, that a man might know / The end of this day's business ere it come! / But it sufficeth that the day will end, / And then the end is known.
  • 1839, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Light of Stars, Voices of the Night:
    O fear not in a world like this, / And thou shalt know erelong, / Know how sublime a thing it is, / To suffer and be strong.
  • 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.

Usage notes[edit]

  • "Knowen" is found in some old texts as the past participle.
  • In some old texts, the form "know to [verb]" rather than "know how to [verb]" is found, e.g. Milton wrote "he knew himself to sing, and build the lofty rhymes".

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

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.

Noun[edit]

know (plural knows)

  1. Knowledge; the state of knowing.
    • 1623, William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1623 first folio edition), act 5, scene 2:
      That on the view and know of these Contents, [] He should the bearers put to [] death,

Derived terms[edit]

References[edit]

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Anagrams[edit]


Cornish[edit]

Etymology[edit]

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

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

know pl (singulative knowen or knofen)

  1. nuts

Derived terms[edit]