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A kenning (Modern Icelandic pronunciation: [cʰɛnːiŋk]; derived from Old Norse) is a type of circumlocution, in the form of a compound that employs figurative language in place of a more concrete single-word noun. Kennings are strongly associated with Old Norse and later Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon poetry. They usually consist of two words, and are often hyphenated. For example, Old Norse poets might replace sverð, the regular word for “sword”, with a more abstract compound such as “wound-hoe” (Egill Skallagrímsson: Höfuðlausn 8), or a genitive phrase such as randa íss “ice of shields” (Einarr Skúlason: ‘Øxarflokkr’ 9). The term kenning has been applied by modern scholars to similar figures of speech in other languages too, especially Old English.
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The word was adopted into English in the nineteenth century  from medieval Icelandic treatises on poetics, in particular the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson, and derives ultimately from the Old Norse verb kenna “know, recognise; perceive, feel; show; teach; etc.”, as used in the expression kenna við “to name after; to express [one thing] in terms of [another]”, “name after; refer to in terms of”,and kenna til “qualify by, make into a kenning by adding”.
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