Interesting words that start with the letter “K”.

Interesting words that start with the letter “K”.

from The Online Etymology Dictionary

kaffeeklatsch What a word. I like the sound of this whatever it means

“gossip over cups of coffee,” 1888, from Ger., from kaffee “coffee” + klatsch “gossip” (see klatsch).

kafuffle Sounds like a problem Winnie the Pooh would have but see it as a variant of kerfuffle.

kakistocracy This is not a line of kings  who wear khakis.

1829, “government by the worst element of a society,” coined on analogy of aristocracy from Gk. kakistos “worst,” superlative of kakos “bad” (which is perhaps related to the general IE word for “defecate”) + -cracy.

karoo Interesting sounding word.  Like a coyote howl or similar sound.

“barren table land in S. Africa,” 1789, said to be from a Hottentot word meaning “dry.”


name of a high, barren limestone region around Trieste; used by geologists from 1894 to refer to similar landforms. The word is the Ger. form of Slovenian kras.

katzenjammer Love this word too. Kaffeeklatsch with the katzenjammers.  Hmmmm.

1849, “a hangover,” Amer.Eng. colloquial, from Ger. katzen, comb. form of katze “cat” + jammer “distress, wailing.” Hence, “any unpleasant reaction” (1897). Katzenjammer Kids “naughty children” is from title of comic strip first drawn by Rudolph Dirks in 1897 for the “New York Journal.”

stan “country, land” (see -stan).

kazoo So was this originally something you blow or blow someone away with?

1884, Amer.Eng., probably altered from earlier bazoo “trumpet” (1877); probably ultimately onomatopoeic (cf. bazooka). In England, formerly called a Timmy Talker, in France, a mirliton.

Kazoos, the great musical wonder, … anyone can play it; imitates fowls, animals, bagpipes, etc. [1895 Montgomery Ward catalogue, p.245]

keister Just read the etymology. ‘Nuf said.

“buttocks,” 1931, perhaps transferred from underworld meaning “safe, strongbox” (1914), earlier “a burglar’s toolkit that can be locked” (1881); probably from British dialect kist (c.1300, northern form of chest, from O.N. kista) or its Ger. cognate Kiste “chest, box.” The connection may be via pickpocket slang sense of “rear trouser pocket” (1930s).

kerfuffle See kafuffle above,  Not from Winnie the Pooh then.

“row, disturbance, c.1930, first in Canadian English, ultimately from Scot. curfuffle.

kibble If the kibble was the bucket the the bits were the waste? My dog never liked kibble & bits anyway.

the noun use for ground-up meat used as dog food, etc., seems to derive from the verb meaning “to bruise or grind coarsely,” attested from 1790, first in milling, but of unknown origin. The same or an identical word was used in the coal trade in the late 19c. and in mining from the 1670s for “bucket used to haul up ore or waste.”

kicksie-wicksie Just read on  :-]

a fanciful word for “wife” in Shakespeare (“All’s Well,” II iii.297), 1601, apparently a perversion of kickshaw, late 16c. for “a fancy dish in cookery” (especially a non-native one), from pronunciation of Fr. quelque chose “something.”

kirschwasser I don’t like liquor, but this does sound good.

“liquor distilled from fermented cherry juice,” 1819, from Ger., lit. “cherry-water;” first element from M.H.G. kirse, from O.H.G. kirsa, from V.L. *ceresia, from L.L. cerasium “cherry” (see cherry).

kirtle Rhymes with girdle but not the one we commonly think of.

“a man’s tunic; a woman’s skirt,” O.E. cyrtel, related to O.N. kyrtill “tunic,” probably both from L. curtus “short” (see curt) + dim. suffix -el.

kismet I thought this had something to do with true love and all that.  Evidently not.

1834, from Turk. qismet, from Arabic qismah, qismat “portion, lot, fate,” from root of qasama “he divided.”

kith Kith and kin. You’ve hear of this one.

O.E. cyðð “native country, home,” from cuð “known,” pp. of cunnan “to know” (see can (v.)). The alliterative phrase kith and kin (late 14c.) originally meant “country and kinsmen.”

kitsch Not short for kitchen. At least not a clean one.

1926, from Ger., lit. “gaudy, trash,” from dial. kitschen “to smear.”

kiwi A bird or a berry.

“type of flightless bird,” 1835, from Maori kiwi, of imitative origin. As slang for “a New Zealander,” it is attested from 1918. The kiwi fruit (Actinia chinesis), was originally imported to the U.S. from China (c.1966) and is known in New Zealand as Chinese gooseberry (1925).

klaxon Sounds like something from a Sci/fi movie. The Klaxtons arrived from the planet Xenon.

“loud warning horn,” 1908, originally on cars, said to have been named for the company that sold them (The Klaxon Company; distributor for Lovell-McConnell Mfg. Co., Newark, N.J.), but probably the company was named for the horn, which bore a word probably based on Gk. klazein “to roar,” cognate with L. clangere “to resound.”

kleptocracy Kleptomaniacs rule here, I guess.

“rule by a class of thieves,” 1819, originally in reference to Spain; see kleptomania + -cracy.

klezmer If this means poor musician, I guess I am one. Or used to be.

late 19c. (plural klezmorim); originally, “an itinerant East European Jewish professional musician,” from Heb. kley zemer, lit. “vessels of song,” thus “musical instruments.”

klutz Me too, unfortunately

1965 (implied in klutzy), Amer.Eng., from Yiddish klots “clumsy person, blockhead,” lit. “block, lump,” from M.H.G. klotz “lump, ball.”


1965, from klutz + -y (2).


knish I’m hungry now.

1930, from Yiddish, from Rus. knysh, a kind of cake.

kolkhoz I thought I knew womething about the history of communes but I never heard of this.

U.S.S.R. collective farm, 1921, from Rus., contraction of kollektivnoe khozyaistvo “collective farm.”

kowtow This word deserves to be on the interesting etymology list.

1804 (n.), from Chinese k’o-t’ou custom of touching the ground with the forehead to show respect or submission, lit.

kraal Another word that belong in a sci/fi or Conan movie.

“village, pen, enclosure,” 1731, from colonial Du. kraal, from Port. curral (see corral).

Krakow I didn’t know this was named for someone named Krak.

city in southern Poland, said to have been named for a supposed founder, Krak.

krummhorn Kind of an unfortunate name for a nice instrument.

“curved wind instrument,” 1864, from Ger., lit. “crooked horn,” from krumm “curved, crooked.”

kudzu Tlk about the weed that took over the world.

1893, from Japanese kuzu. Perennial climbing plant native to Japan and China, introduced in U.S. southeast as forage (1920s) and to stop soil erosion (1930s) and quickly got out of hand.

kvass Sorry, this does not sound good to me, but tastes differ.

Russian fermented drink made from rye or barley, 1550s, from Rus. kvas “leaven,” from O.C.S. kvasu “yeast,” cognate with L. caseus “cheese.”

kvetch Me kvetch?  Never!

“to complain, whine,” 1965, from Yiddish kvetshn, lit. “squeeze, press,” from Ger. quetsche “crusher, presser.”

4 Responses

  1. Carolyn, here’s a collection of “K-words” that might better be left buried with a stake through their collective hearts, but I remember them from major magazine articles (Life?) quite a long while ago ( think late 1940’s).

    The Ku Klux Klan seemed to have taken “K-words” as their very own, using them for the titles of their officers. The words sound ludicrous now, but these were the original American terrorists, killing people wholesale to preserve what they saw as their god-givenway of life. The head guy, of course, was the Imperial Wizard or some such name, but below that things went very bad, very quickly. I remember an officer called the “Kludd”, another called the “Klaxton”, one (I think) called the “Kleagle”, and several K-names I’m not sure of. (I fancy declaring myself the Kludd of the West San Jose Klaven, and see what happens.)

    There’s not much about the Klan in Google or Wikipedia, and they don’t even dignify “Kludd” with any definition except for a character in the “Chronicles of Someplace-or-Other”, by Somebody-I Never-Heard-of. But I have a feeling that deep in a bunker in Idaho, a bunch of guys with white sheets, a cache of survival food, and a bunch of AK-47 rifles is even now doing their solemn ritual and planning how to defend themselves when Obama and his gang of black-Jewish-oneworld-socialist-fascists descend on them to take away their guns and tinfoil hats.

    Oh, well… I’m never far from a rant when something like”K-words” takes me back and sets me off.


    There’s no mention of this usage in

    • Yes, Klan was on the etymology list, but I didn’t include it in mine because I don’t find it interesting. Bunch of – well I won’t go into it. Sorry for any reminders to you.

  2. good.article . thanks for your share

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