from The Century Dictionary.

  • To strive or contend in any way; strive for victory, as in the quantity of work done by reapers in the harvest-field.
  • noun A champion; a knight.
  • noun The act of striving for superiority in any way.
  • Shaggy; rough.
  • noun Coarse hair which is closely mingled with the finer hair or wool, and has to be separated from it before the manufacturing of fine goods, especially in goat's hair of choice and expensive kind.
  • noun Also kempty.
  • noun An eel.
  • noun A boar.
  • noun The ribwort-plantain, Plantago lanceolata, more especially the stalk and spike; also, the common plantain, Plantago major, and perhaps P. media

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Coarse, rough hair in wool or fur, injuring its quality.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Coarse, rough hair, wool, or fur; (in the plural) knotty hairs that will not felt.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English kempe ("coarse hairs"), from Old English cenep ("moustache; bit (of a bridle, bristling with points)"), from Proto-Germanic *kanipaz (“beard, moustache, whiskers”), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵenHw-, *ǵnā(w)- (“jaw”). Related to camp, chin.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word kemp.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • In the 1950s, San Diego California, I remember the word used to describe an automobile, usually in modified (hot-rod) condition and if in good shape, it would be a "Cherry Kemp".

    July 25, 2009

  • Short, white, hairy fibers found about the head and legs of sheep.

    February 18, 2010

  • "The mercers sell the well-kempt gents les vêtements de Sèvres: felt berets, kemp fezzes, tweed spencers, crewneck vests, serge breeches, cheverel belts."

    Eunoia by Christian Bök (upgraded edition), p 105

    May 23, 2010