• Knowledge


    • UK enPR: nŏ′lij, IPA: /ˈnÉ’lɪdÊ’/
    • US enPR: nŏl′ij, IPA: /ˈnÉ‘lɪdÊ’/
    • Rhymes: -É’lɪdÊ’
    • Hyphenation: knowl + edge Hyphenation: know + ledge

    Alternative forms

    , knawlage


    From Middle English knowleche ("knowledge"), of uncertain formation. The first element is ultimately identical with know, but the second is obscure (neither Old Norse -leikr nor Old English -lāċ would have given -leche as found in the earliest Middle English citations). Compare Middle English knowlechen ("to acknowledge"), Old English cnāwelǣċing, cnāwlǣċ ("acknowledgment"), and know. Compare also freeledge.

    The noun originally provided a counterpart to the now-obsolete verb to knowledge (see below), but was very early adapted to be the noun equivalent of know.

    Full definition of knowledge



    (usually uncountable; plural knowledges)
    1. (obsolete) Acknowledgement. 14th-16th c.
    2. The fact of knowing about something; general understanding or familiarity with a subject, place, situation etc. from 14th c.
      • 2013-08-03, The machine of a new soul, 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.
    3. His knowledge of Iceland was limited to what he'd seen on the Travel Channel.
    4. Awareness of a particular fact or situation; a state of having been informed or made aware of something. from 14th c.
      • 1813, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice:He had always intended to visit him, though to the last always assuring his wife that he should not go; and till the evening after the visit was paid she had no knowledge of it.
    5. Intellectual understanding; the state of appreciating truth or information. from 14th c.
      Knowledge consists in recognizing the difference between good and bad decisions.
    6. Familiarity or understanding of a particular skill, branch of learning etc. from 14th c.
      Does your friend have any knowledge of hieroglyphs, perchance?
    7. (archaic or legal) Sexual intimacy or intercourse (now usually in phrase carnal knowledge). from 15th c.
      • 1573, George Gascoigne, "The Adventures of Master F.J.", An Anthology of Elizabethan Prose Fiction:Every time that he had knowledge of her he would leave, either in the bed, or in her cushion-cloth, or by her looking-glass, or in some place where she must needs find it, a piece of money ....
    8. (obsolete) Information or intelligence about something; notice. 15th-18th c.
      • 1580, Edward Hayes, "Sir Humphrey Gilbert's Voyage to Newfoundland", Voyages and Travels Ancient and Modern, ed. Charles W Eliot, Cosimo 2005, p. 280:Item, if any ship be in danger ..., every man to bear towards her, answering her with one light for a short time, and so to put it out again; thereby to give knowledge that they have seen her token.
    9. The total of what is known; all information and products of learning. from 16th c.
      His library contained the accumulated knowledge of the Greeks and Romans.
    10. (countable) Something that can be known; a branch of learning; a piece of information; a science. from 16th c.
      • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essays, II.12:he weakened his braines much, as all men doe, who over nicely and greedily will search out those knowledges , which hang not for their mowing, nor pertaine unto them.
      • Francis BaconThere is a great difference in the delivery of the mathematics, which are the most abstracted of knowledges.
    11. (obsolete) Notice, awareness. 17th c.
      • 1611, The Bible, Authorized Version, Ruth II.10:Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?
    12. (UK, informal) The deep familiarity with certain routes and places of interest required by taxicab drivers working in London, England.
      • Malcolm Bobbitt, Taxi! - The Story of the London CabThere is only one sure way to memorise the runs and that is to follow them, either on foot, cycle or motor cycle; hence, the familiar sight of would-be cabbies learning the knowledge during evenings and weekends.

    Usage notes

    Adjectives often used with “knowledge”: extensive, deep, superficial, theoretical, practical, useful, working, encyclopedic, public, private, scientific, tacit, explicit, general, specialized, special, broad, declarative, procedural, innate, etc.

    Related terms



    1. (obsolete) To confess as true; to acknowledge. 13th-17th c.
      • 1526, Bible, tr. William Tyndale, Matthew 3:Then went oute to hym Jerusalem, and all Jury, and all the region rounde aboute Jordan, and were baptised of hym in Jordan, knoledging their synnes.
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