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  "A kenning is a poetic phrase used in place of or
in addition to the usual name of a person or thing.  It
is used to introduce color or suggest associations
without distracting from the essential statement made.
The word for these compund metaphors comes from
the Old Norse phrase kenna eitt vio, "to express or
describe one thing in terms of another."  For example,
the sea in Old English was called swan's road
(swansrad), or whale's path; a boat was a wave
or foamy necked; darkness was the helmet
of night
; the queen was peace weaver; and a sword
was hammer leaving."

(Robert Hendrickson, The Henry Holt Encyclopedia
of Word and Phrase Origins
, New York, NY)


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