The word king alone is not an adjective. And since it is countable it should be either a king or the king. So the expressions like "money is king" or "the Lord is king" are ungrammatical. How would you explain it, and what meaning king bears here?


King is the title of the king, and titles can be used in the same manner as proper nouns; that is, some require articles and some do not.

If money is figuratively the king, then money is king.

The second example would more likely be "Christ is King", as Christ is indeed considered to be a king, and hence to have that title (and the title Lord, but using the two titles like that would be less common).

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  • Titles shouldn't begin with a capital letter (King)? – Graduate Mar 2 '14 at 0:33
  • Macmillan says that 'X is king' (X not a crowned head of state) is a 'phrase' (I'd say idiom): PHRASES ... something is king something that influences a lot of people a time when jazz was king It also points out the special article-less usage of King for Jesus. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 2 '14 at 0:48
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    I don't think titles explain why this usage is ok. Consider “his pen is poison.” I suspect that the correct answer has more to do with the use of nouns as modifiers, as in noun adjuncts. – Bradd Szonye Mar 2 '14 at 3:09
  • @BraddSzonye: poison is also a mass noun, like water or butter, and hence doesn't require an article. – Graduate Mar 2 '14 at 3:13

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