Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Kith

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is kith. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Kith is an old-fashioned term that refers to familiar friends, neighbors, or relatives. It is often used in the phrase “kith and kin,” which means “friends and relatives.”

// We love inviting all of our kith and kin to family cookouts on holidays.

KITH in Context

“The gathering of our kith and kin usually bears the promise of festive feasting. But it’s the process, cooking together, that’s almost better than the results. Learning and laughing across generations is surely the sweetest dish of all.” — Lynne Ireland, The Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star, 4 Jan. 2023

Did You Know?

If you’d used the word kith a thousand years ago, you might have been referring to knowledge, or to a homeland, or possibly to your neighbors and acquaintances. While those first two meanings of kith have long since fallen out of use, the word endures with a meaning very close to that “neighbors and acquaintances” one. Today kith appears almost exclusively in the phrase kith and kin, meaning “friends and relatives.” (Kin, another ancient word, can also refer independently to relatives.) Occasionally you will see kith and kin used to refer only to family members, much to the chagrin of those who despise redundancy in language. If you wish to avoid redundancy charges you’ll be sure to include friends as well as family among your “kith and kin.”

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