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[kwik-uh n] /ˈkwɪk ən/
verb (used with object)
to make more rapid; accelerate; hasten:
She quickened her pace.
to give or restore vigor or activity to; stir up, rouse, or stimulate:
to quicken the imagination.
to revive; restore life to:
The spring rains quickened the earth.
verb (used without object)
to become more active, sensitive, etc.:
This drug causes the pulse to quicken.
to become alive; receive life.
(of the mother) to enter that stage of pregnancy in which the fetus gives indications of life.
(of a fetus in the womb) to begin to manifest signs of life.
Origin of quicken
First recorded in 1250-1300, quicken is from the Middle English word quikenen. See quick, -en1
Related forms
quickener, noun
requicken, verb
unquickened, adjective
2. animate, vitalize, enliven. 3. vivify. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for quickening
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She could feel the force of his quickening heart beats as though they were her own.

    The Narrow House Evelyn Scott
  • Lydia had felt for the first time the quickening to life of her child.

    The Squirrel-Cage Dorothy Canfield
  • He was also a very suggestive and quickening preacher, often at my request taking my place in the pulpit of the chapel.

  • Falsehood is detected by its quickening the vices that degrade and destroy.

    Usury Calvin Elliott
  • His brow darkened, and quickening his pace, he stepped rudely before her and blocked the way.

  • quickening the dead among them, reviving the cold and the doubting.

    Poems William D. Howells
  • The pace of the stream was quickening, and each had to be in instant readiness to obey orders.

    His Unknown Wife Louis Tracy
British Dictionary definitions for quickening


to make or become faster; accelerate: he quickened his walk, her heartbeat quickened with excitement
to impart to or receive vigour, enthusiasm, etc; stimulate or be stimulated: science quickens man's imagination
to make or become alive; revive
  1. (of an unborn fetus) to begin to show signs of life
  2. (of a pregnant woman) to reach the stage of pregnancy at which movements of the fetus can be felt
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
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Word Origin and History for quickening



c.1300, "come to life; give life to," from quick (adj.) + -en (1). Meaning "become faster" is from 1805. Related: Quickened; quickening. An earlier verb was simply quick (c.1200), from Old English gecwician.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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quickening in Medicine

quickening n.
The initial signs of fetal life felt by the mother as a result of the movements by the fetus.

quicken quick·en (kwĭk'ən)
v. quick·ened, quick·en·ing, quick·ens

  1. To become more rapid.

  2. To reach the stage of pregnancy when the fetus can be felt to move.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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