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verb (used with object)
  1. to make more rapid; accelerate; hasten: She quickened her pace.
  2. to give or restore vigor or activity to; stir up, rouse, or stimulate: to quicken the imagination.
  3. to revive; restore life to: The spring rains quickened the earth.
verb (used without object)
  1. to become more active, sensitive, etc.: This drug causes the pulse to quicken.
  2. to become alive; receive life.
  3. (of the mother) to enter that stage of pregnancy in which the fetus gives indications of life.
  4. (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 formsquick·en·er, nounre·quick·en, verbun·quick·ened, adjective

Synonyms for quicken

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for quicken


  1. to make or become faster; acceleratehe quickened his walk; her heartbeat quickened with excitement
  2. to impart to or receive vigour, enthusiasm, etc; stimulate or be stimulatedscience quickens man's imagination
  3. 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

Word Origin and History for quicken

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

quicken in Medicine


  1. 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.