A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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Know (verb active)

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To Know. v.a. preter. I knew, I have known. [cnaƿan, Saxon.]

  1. To perceive with certainty, whether intuitive or discursive.

    O, that a man might know
    The end of this day's business ere it come!
    Shakespeare.

    The memorial of virtue is immortal, because it is known with God and with men. Wisd. iv. 1.

    The gods all things know. Milton.

    Not from experience, for the world was new,
    He only from their cause their natures knew.
    Denham.

    We doubt not, neither can we properly say we think we admire and love you above all other men: there is a certainty in the proposition, and we know it. Dryden.

    When a man makes use of the name of any simple idea, which he perceives is not understood, or is in danger to be mistaken, he is obliged by the laws of ingenuity, and the end of speech, to declare his meaning, and make known what idea he makes it stand for. Locke.

  2. To be informed of; to be taught.

    Ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you. 1 Sa. vi. 3.

    Led on with a desire to know
    What nearer might concern him.
    Milton.

    One would have thought you had known better things than to expect a kindness from a common enemy. L'Estrange.

  3. To distinguish.

    Numeration is but the adding of one unit more, and giving to the whole a new name, whereby to know it from those before and after, and distinguish it from every smaller or greater multitude of units. Locke.

  4. To recognize.

    What a monstrous fellow art thou, thus to rail on me, that is neither known of thee, nor knows thee? Shakespeare.

    They told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread. Lu. xxiv. 35.

    At nearer view he thought he knew the dead,
    And call'd the wretched man to mind.
    Flatman.

    Tell me how I may know him. Milton.

  5. To be no stranger to.

                        What are you?
    — A most poor man, made tame to fortune's blows,
    Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows,
    Am pregnant to good pity.
    Shak. King Lear.

  6. To converse with another sex.

    And Adam knew Eve his wife. Gen. iv. 4.

  7. To see with approbation.

    They have reigned, but not by me; they have set a seigniory over themselves, but I knew nothing of it. Hosea.

Sources: The Bible - 1. Samuel (18) · Denham, John (75) · Dryden, John (788) · Flatman, Thomas (1) · The Bible - Genesis (48) · The Bible - Hosea (3) · Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (42) · Shakespeare's King Lear (144) · L'Estrange, Roger (131) · Locke, John (269) · The Bible - Luke (10) · Milton, John (449) · The Bible - Wisdom (12)

Attributes: Saxon (215) · Verb Active (289)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Know (verb active)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: February 22, 2014. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=4925.


  1. “And Adam knew Eve his wife” comes from Gen. iv. 1, not Gen. iv. 4.

  2. Brandi on April 24th, 2013 at 11:46 am

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