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can O.E. 1st & 3rd pers. sing. pres. indic. of cunnan "know, have power to, be able," (also "to have carnal knowledge"), from P.Gmc. *kunnan "to be mentally able, to have learned" (cf. O.N. kenna "to know, make known," O.Fris. kanna "to recognize, admit," Ger. kennen "to know," Goth. kannjan "to make known"), from PIE base *gno- (see know). Absorbing the third sense of "to know," that of "to know how to do something" (in addition to "to know as a fact" and "to be acquainted with" something or someone). An O.E. preterite-present verb, its original p.p., couth, survives only in its negation (see ...uncouth), but cf. could. The prp. has spun off as cunning.