Cl pl. coninges

'understanding, arts' (Modern English )


A ger. of the common v. connen, cunnen etc. (< OE cunnan 'to know, understand, know how to, etc.') meaning 'understanding, arts' is common and widespread from the 14c. and both the form and sense could simply represent native developments, as most commentators silently imply. Anderson's tentative note in his gloss '? ON kunnandi' raises the possibility of ON input, and the OIcel equivalent kunnandi 'knowledge' is attested early (Icelandic homilies, c. 1200). It might, therefore, have contributed to development or frequency of this usage in English, but the possibility must remain speculative.

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

kunnandi 'knowledge'
(ONP kunnandi (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

OE Cognate

cp. cunnan (v.) 'to know, understand, know how to, etc.'

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category




Common and widespread from the 14c.; MED's earliest citation is c1330(?c1300) Spec.Guy (Auch) in sense (2) 'knowledge, understanding'. Cp. similiarly MED s.v. conning (ppl.) and OED cunning (adj.).

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Cl 1611, 1625


MED c«ínninge (ger.) , OED cunning (n.1) , HTOED , HTOED , de Vries kunna, Mag. kunna, Orel *kanna, Kroonen *kunnan-, DOE cunnan, AEW cunnan