View synonyms for keen



[ keen ]


, keen·er, keen·est.
  1. finely sharpened, as an edge; so shaped as to cut or pierce substances readily:

    a keen razor.

    Antonyms: dull

  2. sharp, piercing, or biting:

    a keen wind;

    keen satire.

    Synonyms: caustic, bitter, cutting

  3. characterized by strength and distinctness of perception; extremely sensitive or responsive:

    keen eyes;

    keen ears.

    Synonyms: acute, penetrating, piercing

  4. having or showing great mental penetration or acumen:

    keen reasoning;

    a keen mind.

    Synonyms: clever, shrewd, sagacious, astute, acute, discerning

    Antonyms: obtuse, dull

  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.

    Synonyms: fervid, earnest

  8. Older Slang. great; wonderful; marvelous.



[ keen ]


  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.



/ kiːn /


  1. to lament the dead


  1. a dirge or lament for the dead



/ kiːn /


  1. eager or enthusiastic
  2. postpositivefoll byon fond (of); devoted (to)

    keen on golf

    keen on a girl

  3. intellectually acute

    a 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 penetrating

    a keen wind

  7. intense or strong

    a keen desire

  8. extremely low so as to be competitive

    keen prices

  9. slang.
    very good

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Derived Forms

  • ˈkeener, noun
  • ˈkeenness, noun
  • ˈkeenly, adverb

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Other Words From

  • keen·ly adverb
  • keen·ness noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of keen1

First recorded before 900; 1930–35 keen 1fordef 8; Middle English kene, Old English cēne; cognate with German kühn, Old High German chuoni “bold,” Old Norse kœnn “wise, skillful”

Origin of keen2

First recorded in 1780–90 for the verb; from Irish caoin-, stem of caoinim “(I) lament”; noun derivative of the verb

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Word History and Origins

Origin of keen1

C19: from Irish Gaelic caoine, from Old Irish coīnim I wail

Origin of keen2

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

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Synonym Study

See sharp. See avid.

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Example Sentences

That’s not good for a leader like Xi, keen to rule for life.

From Ozy

Sorkin is keen to stress that passion and persistence matter more than talent and the value of visualizing dreams before they become reality.

From Ozy

While countries are keen to build up scant domestic manufacturing capacity, it’s a costly and complex business, and difficult to compete with larger producers, Gavi’s Berkley said.

From Fortune

Like young adults who are keen to leave home at age 18, young leopards migrate in order to begin their family and establish territorial control over new areas.

From Ozy

For the last few months, Facebook, keen to look like it’s working with credible publishing sources, has paid Upday journalists to populate its Coronavirus Information Center.

From Digiday

Would a state with a keen understanding of the power of propaganda be so willing to just throw away such a trove of information?

Manttan is keen to carry out research on that Burmese side of the railway as his father worked on that section.

It offers keen insights into Hitch's craft while painting an intimate and unsentimental picture of the man behind the camera.

And because millions of us are so keen to do just that, our behavioral habits are changing.

The Telegraph reports that he is fluent in Swahili and a keen zoologist.

The student who does not intend to arouse himself need hope for no keen sense of beauty.

One other illustration of this keen childish dialectic when face to face with the accuser deserves to be touched on.

Impersonation may be more easily achieved intellectually, requiring only keen observation and the power of imitation.

The keen resentment had faded from his face, but an immense reproach was there—a heavy, helpless, appealing reproach.

Garnache bowed to the lady, who returned his greeting by an inclination of the head, and his keen eyes played briskly over her.


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More About Keen

What does keen mean?

Keen commonly means eager, interested, or enthusiastic. This sense of the word is often followed by about or on and the particular interest, as in He’s very keen on music. 

More generally, keen means sharp, intense, or strong. It can be used to mean sharp in a literal way, as in a keen blade. It can also be used in several figurative ways. A keen sense of smell is one that’s very strong and perceptive. A keen intellect is one that’s sharp in the sense of being mentally strong. A keen desire is an intense one. A keen satire and a keen wind are both piercing and biting—they both sting.

The word keen can also be used as a slang term meaning wonderful or splendid, and this is how it’s used in the phrase peachy keen, which is used as an informal and playful way to describe something as excellent or wonderful.

Example: He showed keen jealousy over my keen knife.

Where does keen come from?

The first records of the word keen in English come from before 900. It comes from the Old English word cēne and is related to the Old Norse kœnn, meaning “wise, skillful.” Keen wasn’t used in a slang way to mean “excellent” until the 1900s.

Keen can be used in a number of different ways, but most of them involve enthusiasm, intensity, or (literal or figurative) sharpness. When keen is used to describe something sharp—like a knife or a mind—its opposite can be dull in either sense of the word. If you’re keen to do something, it means you’re excited about it—you can’t wait. If you’re not keen on something, it means you’re not interested in it or enthusiastic about it.

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What are some other forms related to keen?

  • keenly (adverb)
  • keenness (noun)

What are some synonyms for keen?

What are some words that share a root or word element with keen

What are some words that often get used in discussing keen?

How is keen used in real life?

Keen can be used in many different contexts. It’s more commonly used in the U.K. than the U.S.



Try using keen!

Which of the following things could be described as keen?

A. a sharp blade
B. a strong sense of hearing
C. an enthusiastic person
D. all of the above




keel vesselKeene