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)

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

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for quickening

Contemporary Examples of quickening

  • I shifted and put the casing in my pocket, and when I did, I felt a quickening from my stomach to my jaw.

    The Daily Beast logo
    I Shot Bin Laden

    Elliot Ackerman

    November 16, 2014

  • Josh Rogin and Eli Lake report on Obama's quickening war campaign.

    The Daily Beast logo
    McCain: Obama to Send New Arms to Syrian Rebels

    Josh Rogin, Eli Lake

    September 3, 2013

  • "Quickening" introduces the second room of the exhibit and features a diptych of pregnant women, their faces also ravaged by time.

    The Daily Beast logo
    A Woman in Full

    Chloe Malle

    February 18, 2010

Historical Examples of quickening

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


    William D. Howells

  • "We must hurry," she declared, quickening her own small steps.

    The Innocent Adventuress

    Mary Hastings Bradley

  • Presently she brightened, turning to Mackenzie with quickening eyes.

  • From his vantage-point he had a clear view of the quickening rush of departure.

    The Genius

    Margaret Horton Potter

  • It has produced a regeneration, penetrating and quickening the whole.

    Maxim Gorki

    Hans Ostwald

British Dictionary definitions for quickening



to make or become faster; acceleratehe quickened his walk; her heartbeat quickened with excitement
to impart to or receive vigour, enthusiasm, etc; stimulate or be stimulatedscience 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

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

quickening in Medicine




The initial signs of fetal life felt by the mother as a result of fetal movement.




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.