1. The state or fact of knowing: Humans naturally aspire to knowledge.
2. Familiarity, awareness, or understanding gained through experience or study: has great knowledge of these parts; has only limited knowledge of chemistry.
3. The sum or range of what has been perceived, discovered, or learned: the extraordinary knowledge housed in the library.
4. Archaic Carnal knowledge.
[Middle English knoulech : knouen, to know; see KNOW + -leche, n. suff.]
Synonyms: knowledge, information, learning, erudition, scholarship, lore1
These nouns refer to what is known, as through study or experience. Knowledge is the broadest: "Science is organized knowledge" (Herbert Spencer).
Information often implies a collection of facts and data: "A man's judgment cannot be better than the information on which he has based it" (Arthur Hays Sulzberger).
Learning usually refers to knowledge gained by schooling and study: "Learning ... must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence" (Abigail Adams).
Erudition implies profound, often specialized knowledge: "Some have criticized his poetry as elitist, unnecessarily impervious to readers who do not share his erudition" (Elizabeth Kastor).
Scholarship is the mastery of a particular area of learning reflected in a scholar's work: A good journal article shows ample evidence of the author's scholarship. Lore is usually applied to knowledge gained through tradition or anecdote about a particular subject: Many American folktales concern the lore of frontier life.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.