What are some other kennings in any of the major dialects of Modern Standard English? Here are a few examples in use in American English that I offer for starters:

  • rug-rat
  • rice-rocket
  • eye-candy
  • eye-opener
  • tongue-lashing
  • jail-bait
  • mind-share
  • belly-buster
  • tear-jerker
  • coin-toss
  • nail-biter (suspenseful movie)
  • spine-tingler (eerie/scary movie)
  • night-owl
  • grease-monkey
  • disk-jockey
  • code-warrior
  • bit-cruncher
  • stud-muffin
  • saw-bones
  • moon-shine
  • block-buster (a very popular movie)

This is a form of single-word request. I'm not looking for words with a particular meaning but a compound-noun with a particular structure.

A kenning is a compound consisting of two nouns (though sometimes adjective + noun) whose semantic relationship yields, indirectly, a nominal that is not a synonym for either of them, though one of them might be a metonym for part of the idea.

Rice-rocket, for example, is a name for 'fast Japanese motorcycle' (though I've heard it used of souped-up Japanese subcompact cars too). Rice is a metonym for Japan. Rocket yields fast-vehicle by synechdoche.

These are conversational everyday words, not restricted to poetical argot.

  • 1
    You might be interested in kenningexamples.com/for/list-kennings. And yes, the domain name is kenningexamples.com!
    – DyingIsFun
    May 25, 2016 at 11:58
  • Thanks for the link, Silenus. I checked it out just now. I think we here can do better :)
    – TimR
    May 25, 2016 at 12:03
  • List of kennings what did you not like in this long list? Modern English allows attributive nouns/noun modifiers, so 'noun-noun' pairs are very productive. Since I think you don't want the full set of possible noun-noun pairs, but also not the very restricted ON, OE, or Game of Thrones-sounding pairs, can you give us an idea of what sort of examples you want? How boring/pejorative/war-like/scientific/...etc?
    – Mitch
    May 25, 2016 at 19:08
  • @Mitch: kennings are special subset of compounds. It's the oblique way in which the resulting idea is generated by the pair that sets them apart from standard compounds and makes them interesting (to me).
    – TimR
    May 26, 2016 at 14:36
  • 2
    Requests for lists are (or at least were) off-topic on ELU. Dec 23, 2021 at 15:36

3 Answers 3


There are lists of English kennings out there that can be found by googling. See, for example, here and here. I don't think anything is gained by rehashing them here.

Slurs often have the form of kennings. Further and unfortunately, they persist in common usage (among intolerant people). Because they are offensive, they are usually left off of lists. It is because they are often omitted that I include them here:

  • porch monkey [for African Americans]
  • towel head [for people who wear turbans]
  • rag head [for people who wear turbans]
  • camel jockey [for Middle Easterners]
  • sand nigger [for Middle Easterners]
  • timber nigger [for Native Americans]
  • wetback [for Mexicans]
  • slant eye [for Asians]
  • cock tease [for women]
  • fudge packer [for male homosexuals]
  • knob jockey or nob jockey [for male homosexuals]
  • bean flicker [for lesbians]
  • muff diver or muff muncher [for lesbians]
  • Bible thumper [for Christian fundamentalists]

Cocksucker and motherfucker might also be considered kennings, depending on how broad your conception of kenning is.

There are also very many slang terms for genitals, semen, etc. which have the form of kennings. For example:

  • baby gravy or baby batter [for semen]
  • meat curtains [for the vagina]
  • meat scepter [for the penis]

An exhaustive list of such slang terms would quickly become, well, exhaustive.



soldiers, especially infantrymen, who run the greatest risk of being wounded or killed in warfare.

Bumf short for 'Bum-fodder'

"papers, paperwork," 1889, British schoolboy slang, originally "toilet-paper," from bum-fodder.


baby boomer.


(This post has been heavily edited to remove loads of redundant, down-voted, and unhelpful material)


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