Kith and kin

Posted by ESC on April 21, 2003

The Word of the Day for April 20, 2003, is:

kith \KITH\ noun
: familiar friends, neighbors, or relatives

Example sentence:
Friends and family are important to Jared, so he makes a point of keeping in touch with kith and kin even when his schedule gets hectic.

Did you know?
"Kith" has had many meanings over the years. In its earliest uses it referred to knowledge of something, but that meaning died out in the 1400s. Another sense, "one's native land," had come and gone by the early 1500s. The sense "friends, fellow countrymen, or neighbors" developed by the 1300s, a time when the word was also used as a synonym of "kinsfolk." That last sense got "kith" into hot water after people began using the word in the alliterative phrase "kith and kin." Over the
years, usage commentators have complained that "kith" means the same thing as "kin," so "kith and kin" is redundant. Clearly, they have overlooked some other historical definitions, but if you want to avoid redundancy charges, be sure to include friends
as well as relatives among your "kith and kin."

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