From Wikipedia:

In literature, a kenning is a magic poetic phrase, a figure of speech, substituted for the usual name of a person or thing. Kennings work in much the same way as epithets and verbal formulae, and were commonly inserted into Old English poetic lines.

A figurative, usually compound expression used in place of a name or noun, especially in Old English and Old Norse poetry; for example, storm of swords is a kenning for battle.

From: Nancy Steen

I have a mixed ability class, and we used this method:

In my very rudimentary line drawings I drew pictures of noun/verb compound 
words that CAN have multiple meanings such as butterfly (stick of butter 
with wings) Seatbelt (chair with a slug of beer) beltbuckle (belt, breaking 
from too much weight) eyelash (eye whipping a victim)
Ok, then we transferred to the kennings, and using the wikipedia piece as a 
handout, we read the information together. We tried a few and they were off.
Today, we were going to do more, with some of the stuff on runes, we were 
going to make rune names.


  • Beowulf Kennings
  • Activities
  • A Game of Kennings
  • The Kenning Game

    From: "Mahaney, Brenda" 
    Subject: Re: [talkies] Kennings?
    Here is what I have:
    Four types:
    Open Kenning (adjective noun format)  wakeful sleeper   monstrous ogress
    Hyphenated Kenning (noun-noun format)  hell-fiend
    Possessive Kenning ('s or s' format)  hell's captive   whale's road     
    Prepositional Kenning  (add any preposition)  Giver of rings   hall of
    Used because the A/S language had less words and it allowed for less
    repetition and more creativity.  
    We identify kennings in Beowulf and other A/S poems.  Then I have them
    create a kenning to rename themselves. They put it on a piece of blank
    paper and then decorate.  I hold them up and we try to figure out who it
    is.  I do this at the beginning of the year b/c I learn names this way
    and a little bit about each kid.  Do warn them that subtext is not
    acceptable (i.e. "kicker of balls" for a soccer player is not OK :-)
    they get a kick out of that!)
    Hope this helps!


    What are Runes? Nowadays the very name conjurs up images of mystery, magic and the occult. The question of whether the Anglo-Saxons held similar views is open to debate, and one to which I hope to return in later articles. For now I will put the straight-forward fact that runes are a peculiarly Germanic writing system originally incised or carved upon materials such as stone, wood or bone.
  • Runes, Alphabet of Mystery
  • Wikipedia entyr
  • Free RUNE Readings
  • The Runic Journey
  • Runes from the Skeptic's Dictionary
  • A GOOGLE Search wil find more.

    Other Sites:

  • Kennings and Other Elements from Carole Ronane
  • Anglo-Saxon Links from Carole Ronane

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