What common object do all of the following kennings describe?
What essential quality of the object does each kenning focus on?
Arrow aimer
Dust terror
Antique printer
Tickle tool
Fowl Fashion

One of the literary devices popular in the Anglo-Saxon Old English poetry tradition is the kenning. Read the definition below and ready yourself to take a stab at this delightfully metaphorical way of speaking, writing, and thinking.

kenning - a literary device in which a noun is renamed in a creative way using a compound word or union of two separate words to combine ideas

If you call “school a “scholar’s home -- then you have created a kenning.

If you tell your friends that your parents are the “car loaners -- then you have created a kenning.

The folks at Coca-Cola might agree that a cold Coke is “humanity’s beverage.

Part One: Consider carefully how you could creatively rename each of the following through the use of the kenning technique.

1. a teacher

2. a bus driver

3. firemen

4. television

5. meatloaf

6. police

7. pop tarts

8. music

9. love

10. computer

Part Two: Write 5 complete sentences which each incorporate the use of kennings to achieve a creative description.


*Activities from Cathy Bishop at Calhoun High School, Calhoun, Georgia and Jackie Laba at Randolph High School

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Updated 24 February 2019.