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Word for the Wise February 01, 2007 Broadcast Topic: Kith and kin

With the holidays officially over for another season, we have time to investigate a word question raised by our nearest and dearest: how does one distinguish kith from kin? (来源:英语麦当劳 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

Well, for starters, the phrase kith and kin collectively refers to "friends and kindred." Kin, as you may have guessed, has much the same meaning as kindred; kin, which has been around as long as English itself, comes from the Old English word meaning "family; race; kind; nature."

Kith, which has an ancestor in an Old English word meaning "known," and which is as old as kin, embraces familiar friends, neighbors, fellow countrymen, or acquaintances. These days, kith can also include relatives. And kith, like kin, can be synonymous with kindred.

Since kindred keeps popping up, let's look at what it means. Long ago—and in a sense now-archaic—kindred named "a relationship by blood or marriage." The most inclusive sense of kindred is used for "a natural grouping;" kindred can also mean "family; clan;" or "relatives."

So while you may conclude kin includes relatives and kith those who are known to you, you would not be wrong to look at kith and kin as the inclusive term for "familiar friends, neighbors, or relatives."

 
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