[ keen ]
See synonyms for: keenkeenedkeenerkeenest on

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.

  1. characterized by strength and distinctness of perception; extremely sensitive or responsive: keen eyes;keen ears.

  2. having or showing great mental penetration or acumen: keen reasoning;a keen mind.

  3. animated by or showing strong feeling or desire: keen competition.

  4. intense, as feeling or desire: keen ambition;keen jealousy.

  5. eager; interested; enthusiastic; (often followed by about, on, etc., or an infinitive): She is really keen on going swimming.

  6. Older Slang. great; wonderful; marvelous.

Origin of keen

First recorded 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”

synonym study For keen

1, 4. See sharp. 5. See avid.

Other words for keen

Opposites for keen

Other words from keen

  • keen·ly, adverb
  • keen·ness, noun

Other definitions for keen (2 of 2)

[ 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.

Origin of keen

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

Other words from keen

  • keener, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use keen in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for keen (1 of 2)


/ (kiːn) /

  1. eager or enthusiastic

  2. (postpositive foll by on) fond (of); devoted (to): keen on a girl; keen on golf

  1. intellectually acute: a keen wit

  2. (of sight, smell, hearing, etc) capable of recognizing fine distinctions

  3. having a sharp cutting edge or point

  4. extremely cold and penetrating: a keen wind

  5. intense or strong: a keen desire

  6. mainly British extremely low so as to be competitive: keen prices

  7. slang, mainly US and Canadian very good

Origin of keen

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

Derived forms of keen

  • keenly, adverb
  • keenness, noun

British Dictionary definitions for keen (2 of 2)


/ (kiːn) /

  1. to lament the dead

  1. a dirge or lament for the dead

Origin of keen

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

Derived forms of keen

  • keener, noun

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