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kenning


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(plural -ings or -ingar)

A stock phrase of the kind used in Old Norse and Old English verse as a poetic circumlocution in place of a more familiar noun. Examples are banhus (bonehouse) for ‘body’, and saewudu (sea-wood) for ‘ship’. Similar metonymic compounds appear in colloquial speech, e.g. fire-water for ‘whisky’. A famous Shakespearean example is the beast with two backs for ‘copulation’. See also periphrasis.

Subjects: Literature.


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