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

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

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

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), Faroese kønur (expert (in, on), experienced, skilful, able, capable), Scots keen (lively, brisk; avaricious). Related to Old English cunnan (to know how to, be able to). More at cunning, can.

  • keene, kene (both obsolete)

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

  1. (chiefly Commonwealth) Often with a prepositional phrase, or with to and an infinitive: showing a quick and ardent responsiveness or willingness; eager, enthusiastic, interested.
    I’m keen on you.I like you.
    • 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.
  3. Having a fine edge or point; sharp.
  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. (British) Of prices, extremely low as to be competitive.
  8. (US, informal, dated) Marvelous.
  9. (obsolete) Brave, courageous; audacious, bold.

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.

  • (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

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

  1. (transitive, rare) To make cold, to sharpen.

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

keen (plural keens)

  1. A prolonged wail for a deceased person.

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.
  • keener

  • Enke, kene, knee, kène, neek


  1. genitive plural of ke
  • jeen (Ripuarian)
  • kein (Kölsch; Westerwald)
  • kään (eastern Moselle Franconian)

From Middle High German (en) kein, from nechein, from Old High German nehhein. Cognate with German kein, Dutch geen.

  • IPA(key): /keːn/


  1. (most of Ripuarian, western Moselle Franconian) no, not a, not any
  • The declension is equivalent to that of een (one), which see. Keen has additional plural forms, however, which are the same as the feminine forms (but dative plural usually keene). Moreover, keen cannot be used after other determiners.
  • IPA(key): /kʰeːn/


  1. no, not any, not a

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

  • Online Hunsrik Dictionary

From Middle High German kein, from the merger of dechein, dehein ("someone; anyone", from Old High German dehein) and Middle High German nechein, nehein ("not any", from Old High German nihein).

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

keen m or n

  1. no, not any, not a

From Proto-Algonquian *kiᐧlawa. Compare Ojibwe giin.


  1. you, thou (second-person singular pronoun)

Usually precedes a verb or noun, like neèn but unlike ewò.

  • Roger Williams (1643) A Key into the Language of America, London: Gregory Dexter, →OCLC, page 2


  1. bring
  • keéne

From Middle English kene, from Old English cēne.

  • IPA(key): /kiːn/
  • Homophones: keeine, kinge


  1. sharp
  • Jacob Poole (d. 1827) (before 1828) William Barnes, editor, A Glossary, With some Pieces of Verse, of the old Dialect of the English Colony in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, County of Wexford, Ireland, London: J. Russell Smith, published 1867, page 49

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