Etymology
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kernel (n.)

"edible substance in a nut or the stone of a fruit," Old English cyrnel "seed, kernel, pip," from Proto-Germanic *kurnilo- (source also of Middle High German kornel "a grain," Middle Dutch cornel "coarse meal"), from the root of corn "seed, grain" (from PIE root *gre-no- "grain") + -el, diminutive suffix. Figurative sense of "core or central part of anything" is from 1550s.

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Definitions of kernel

kernel (n.)
the inner and usually edible part of a seed or grain or nut or fruit stone;
black walnut kernels are difficult to get out of the shell
Synonyms: meat
kernel (n.)
a single whole grain of a cereal;
a kernel of corn
kernel (n.)
the choicest or most essential or most vital part of some idea or experience;
Synonyms: substance / core / center / centre / essence / gist / heart / heart and soul / inwardness / marrow / meat / nub / pith / sum / nitty-gritty
From wordnet.princeton.edu