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Kenning

Definition

In literature, a kenning is a compound poetic phrase, a figure of speech, substituted for the usual name of a person or thing. Kennings work in much the same way as epithets and verbal formulae, and were commonly inserted into Old English poetic lines. In its simplest form, it comprises two terms, one of which (the 'base word'), is made to relate to the other to convey a meaning neither has alone.

[n] conventional metaphoric name for something, used especially in Old English and Old Norse poetry

Example

"cannon-fodder" - soldiers, especially the war dead
"The devil's dandruff" - cocaine;
"Falling-over juice" - alcohol;
"The Game of Kings" - chess, horse racing and other sports;

Related Information

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