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keen1

[keen]
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adjective, keen·er, keen·est.
  1. finely sharpened, as an edge; so shaped as to cut or pierce substances readily: a keen razor.
  2. sharp, piercing, or biting: a keen wind; keen satire.
  3. characterized by strength and distinctness of perception; extremely sensitive or responsive: keen eyes; keen ears.
  4. having or showing great mental penetration or acumen: keen reasoning; a keen mind.
  5. animated by or showing strong feeling or desire: keen competition.
  6. intense, as feeling or desire: keen ambition; keen jealousy.
  7. eager; interested; enthusiastic (often followed by about, on, etc., or an infinitive): She is really keen on going swimming.
  8. Slang. great; wonderful; marvelous.

Origin of keen1

before 900; 1930–35 for def 8; Middle English kene, Old English cēne; cognate with German kühn, Old High German chuoni bold, Old Norse kœnn wise, skillful
Related formskeen·ly, adverbkeen·ness, noun

Synonyms

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1, 4. See sharp. 2. cutting, bitter, caustic. 3. piercing, penetrating, acute. 4. discerning, acute, astute, sagacious, shrewd, clever. 5. See avid. 7. earnest, fervid.

Antonyms

1, 3, 4. dull.

keen2

[keen]
noun
  1. a wailing lament for the dead.
verb (used without object)
  1. to wail in lamentation for the dead.
verb (used with object)
  1. to mourn for by or with such keening or wailing: keening his mother while kneeling at her grave.

Origin of keen2

1805–15; < Irish caoine (noun), caoin- (v., stem of caoinim) lament
Related formskeen·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for keen

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Nor, my dear, does your own mother always escape the keen edge of your vivacity.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • So keen the blade, so soft the touch, the sleeper did not wake!

  • His keen eyes had perceived Mary Turner's graces of form, her loveliness of face.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • She had meant to wait; but, with his keen eyes on her, she could not dissemble.

    K

    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • But you would pardon me if you knew how much I have suffered from it, and how keen my remorse has been.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola


British Dictionary definitions for keen

keen1

adjective
  1. eager or enthusiastic
  2. (postpositive foll by on) fond (of); devoted (to)keen on a girl; keen on golf
  3. intellectually acutea keen wit
  4. (of sight, smell, hearing, etc) capable of recognizing fine distinctions
  5. having a sharp cutting edge or point
  6. extremely cold and penetratinga keen wind
  7. intense or stronga keen desire
  8. mainly British extremely low so as to be competitivekeen prices
  9. slang, mainly US and Canadian very good
Derived Formskeenly, adverbkeenness, noun

Word Origin

Old English cēne; related to Old High German kuoni brave, Old Norse koenn wise; see can 1, know

keen2

verb (intr)
  1. to lament the dead
noun
  1. a dirge or lament for the dead
Derived Formskeener, noun

Word Origin

C19: from Irish Gaelic caoine, from Old Irish coīnim I wail
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for keen

adj.

c.1200, from Old English cene "bold brave," later "clever, wise," from Proto-Germanic *kan- "be able to" (see can). Original prehistoric senses seem to have been both "brave" and "skilled;" cognate with Old Norse kænn "skillful, wise," Middle Dutch coene "bold," Dutch koen, Old High German kuon "pugnacious, strong," German kühn "bold, daring." Sense of "eager" is from mid-14c. The meaning "sharp" is peculiar to English: of blades and edges early 13c., of sounds c.1400, of eyesight c.1720. A popular word of approval in teenager and student slang from c.1900.

v.

"lament," 1811, from Irish caoinim "I weep, wail, lament," from Old Irish coinim "I wail." Related: Keened; keening. As a noun from 1830.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper