keen

keen

synonyms, antonyms, definitions, examples & translations of keen in English

English Online Dictionary. What means keen‎? What does keen mean?

English

Pronunciation

  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /kiːn/
  • (General American) enPR: kēn, IPA(key): /kin/
  • Rhymes: -iːn
  • Homophones: Keane, Keene

Etymology 1

From Middle English kene (bold, brave, sharp), from Old English cēne (keen, fierce, bold, brave, warlike, powerful; learned, clever, wise), from Proto-Germanic *kōniz (knowledgeable, skilful, experienced, clever, capable), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵneh₃- (to know). Cognate with Danish køn (handsome, pretty), Dutch kien (smart, wise, able), koen (daring, valiant, doughty, courageous), German kühn (bold, daring, audacious, hardy, valiant, venturesome), Icelandic kænn (wise, crafty, clever, able), Scots keen (lively, brisk; avaricious). Related to Old English cunnan (to know how to, be able to). More at cunning, can.

Alternative forms

  • keene, kene (both obsolete)

Adjective

keen (comparative keener or more keen, superlative keenest or most keen)

  1. (chiefly Commonwealth of Nations) Often with a prepositional phrase, or with to and an infinitive: showing a quick and ardent responsiveness or willingness; eager, enthusiastic, interested.
    • 2000, Jane Green, Bookends, London: Penguin Books, →ISBN; republished as Bookends: A Novel, trade paperback edition, New York, N.Y.: Broadway Books, 2003, →ISBN, page 304:
      In fact, she doesn't mention the fact that I've obviously been avoiding her, just sounds genuinely thrilled to hear from me, and as soon as I mention getting together she suggests Monday, which is rather keen, even for Portia.
  2. Fierce, intense, vehement.
    • c. 1370–1390, William Langland, Piers Plowman; published as “Passus XVII”, in Walter W[illiam] Skeat, editor, The Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman, together with the Vita de Dowel, Dobet, et Dobest, Secundum Wit et Resoun, by William Langland (about 1362–1393 A.D.): Edited from Numerous Manuscripts, with Prefaces, Notes, and a Glossary, [...] In Four Parts, part III (Langland’s Vision of Piers the Plowman, the Whitaker Text, or Text C; Richard the Bedeles; The Crowned King), London: Published for the Early English Text Society, by N[icholas] Trübner & Co., 57 & 59, Ludgate Hill, 1873, →OCLC, page 285, lines 82–85:
      For men knoweþ þat couetise · is of ful kene wil, / And haþ hondes and armes · of a long lengthe, / And pourte is a pety þyng · apereþ nat to hus nauele; / A loueliche laik was hit neuere · by-twyne a long and a short.
      For men know well that Covetousness has a keen will / And a very long reach of hands and arms / And Poverty's just a tiny thing, doesn't even reach his navel, / And a good bout was never between tall and short.
  3. Having a fine edge or point; sharp.
    • c. 1387–1400, Geoffrey Chaucer, “The Knightes Tale” from The Canterbury Tales; published in A Complete Edition of the Poets of Great Britain, volume I (Containing Chaucer, Surrey, Wyatt & Sackville), London: Printed for Iohn & Arthur Arch, 23, Gracechurch Street; Edinburgh: Bell & Bradfute & I. Mundell & Co., [1795], →OCLC, page 17, column 2:
      Before hire [Venus] ſtood hire ſone Cupido, / Upon his ſhoulders winges he had two, / And blind he was, as is often ſene; / A bow he bare and arwes bright and kene.
  4. Acute of mind, having or expressing mental acuteness; penetrating, sharp.
  5. Acrimonious, bitter, piercing.
  6. Of cold, wind, etc.: cutting, penetrating, piercing, sharp.
    • 1764 December 19 (indicated as 1765), Oliver Goldsmith, The Traveller, or a Prospect of Society. A Poem. Inscribed to the Rev. Henry Goldsmith, London: Printed for J[ohn] Newbery, →OCLC; 3rd edition, London: Printed for J. Newbury,[sic, meaning Newbery] in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1765, →OCLC, page 10:
      Chearful at morn he wakes from ſhort repoſe, / Breaſts the keen air, and carolls as he goes; []
  7. (Britain) Extremely low as to be competitive.
  8. (US, informal, dated) Marvelous.
  9. (obsolete) Brave, courageous; audacious, bold.
Usage notes

Keen is often used to create compounds, the meaning of most of them being fairly obvious, for example, keen-edged, keen-eyed, keen-sighted, keen-witted, etc.

Synonyms
  • (showing a quick and ardent responsiveness or willingness): ardent, eager, prompt
  • (having a fine edge or point): sharp
  • (acrimonious): biting, cutting, piercing
  • (acute of mind): acute, penetrating, shrewd; see also Thesaurus:intelligent
Derived terms
Translations

Verb

keen (third-person singular simple present keens, present participle keening, simple past and past participle keened)

  1. (transitive, rare) To make cold, to sharpen.
    • 1730, James Thomson, “Summer”, in The Seasons, A Hymn, A Poem to the Memory of Sir Isaac Newton, and Britannia, a Poem, London, Printed for J. Millan, near Whitehall; and A[ndrew] Millar, in the Strand, →OCLC; republished in The Works of James Thomson. With His Last Corrections and Improvements. In Four Volumes, volume I, London: Printed for A. Millar, in the Strand, 1766, →OCLC, page 93, lines 1256–1259:
      This is the pureſt exerciſe of health, / The kind refreſher of the ſummer-heats; / Nor, when cold Winter keens the brightening flood, / Would I weak-ſhivering linger on the brink.

Etymology 2

From Irish caoin (to cry, weep; to keen).

Noun

keen (plural keens)

  1. A prolonged wail for a deceased person.

Verb

keen (third-person singular simple present keens, present participle keening, simple past and past participle keened)

  1. (intransitive) To utter a keen.
    • 20th century, Stuart Howard-Jones (1904–1974), “Hibernia”, in Kingsley Amis, comp., The New Oxford Book of English Light Verse, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 1978, →ISBN, page 243:
      Last night he had put down too much Potheen / (A vulgar blend of Methyl and Benzene) / That, at some Wake, he might the better keen. / (Keen—meaning 'brisk'? Nay, here the Language warps: / 'Tis singing bawdy Ballads to a Corpse.)
  2. (transitive) To utter with a loud wailing voice or wordless cry.
  3. (transitive) To mourn.
Related terms
  • keener

References

Anagrams

  • Enke, kene, knee, kène, neek

Hunsrik

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /kʰeːn/

Particle

keen

  1. no, not any, not a

Declension

1Form used when the plural of the noun is the same as the singular

Further reading

  • Online Hunsrik Dictionary

Luxembourgish

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /keːn/
    • Rhymes: -eːn

Particle

keen m or n

  1. no, not any, not a

Declension


Somali

Verb

keen

  1. bring

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This article based on an article on Wiktionary. The list of authors can be seen in the page history there. The original work has been modified. This article is distributed under the terms of this license.