1

keen

adjective \ ˈkēn \
Updated on: 16 Dec 2017

Definition of keen

1 a : intellectually alert : having or characteristic of a quick penetrating mind
  • a keen student
  • a keen awareness of the problem
; also : shrewdly astute
  • a keen assessment
b : extremely sensitive in perception
  • keen eyes
  • a keen sense of smell
c : sharply contested
  • keen competition
  • keen debate
2 a (1) : showing a quick and ardent responsiveness : enthusiastic
  • a keen swimmer
(2) : eager
  • was keen to begin
b of emotion or feeling : intense
  • the keen delight in the chase
  • —F. W. Maitland
3 : wonderful, excellent
  • a keen idea
4 a : having a fine edge or point : sharp
  • a knife with a keen blade
b : affecting one as if by cutting
  • keen sarcasm
c : pungent to the sense
  • a keen scent

keenly

adverb

keenness

play \ˈkēn-nəs\ noun
keen on
: very enthusiastic or excited about
  • wasn't keen on going

Examples of keen in a Sentence

  1. When you've been trying to remember something and you suddenly remember it, the mental pleasure is keen. —Ian FrazierAtlanticOctober 2004
  2. Indeed, tobacco processors were keen to promote variety even further by saturating and mixing the cut and spun leaf with a miscellany of spices … —Simon SchamaThe Embarrassment of Riches1988
  3. But Mary wasn't keen on braving the Athens streets alone so Magnus went instead; Mary would do a museum in the morning. —John le CarréA Perfect Spy1986
  4. That he took a keen interest in scientific navigation is indicated by his keeping a daybook or journal (which has not survived), and by making an honest effort to determine longitude. —Samuel Eliot MorisonThe European Discovery of America1971
  5. The keen clear wind swept in on his left cheek, and as he bore on the helm so the Sophie answered, quicker and more nervous than he had expected. —Patrick O'BrianMaster and Commander1970
  6. Planting himself squarely before the two tall cowboys who were standing, he looked straight into their lean, bronzed faces. He spared a full moment for that keen cool gaze before he spoke. —Zane GreyDesert Gold1913
  7. She's a very keen observer of the political world.

  8. pilots with especially keen eyesight

Recent Examples of keen from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'keen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of keen

Middle English kene brave, sharp, from Old English cēne brave; akin to Old High German kuoni brave

Synonym Discussion of keen

sharp, keen, acute mean having or showing alert competence and clear understanding. sharp implies quick perception, clever resourcefulness, or sometimes questionable trickiness.
    • sharp enough to spot a confidence game
keen suggests quickness, enthusiasm, and a penetrating mind.
    • a keen observer of the political scene
acute implies a power to penetrate and may suggest subtlety and sharpness of discrimination.
    • an acute sense of style
eager, avid, keen, anxious, athirst mean moved by a strong and urgent desire or interest. eager implies ardor and enthusiasm and sometimes impatience at delay or restraint.
    • eager to get started
avid adds to eager the implication of insatiability or greed.
    • avid for new thrills
keen suggests intensity of interest and quick responsiveness in action.
    • keen on the latest fashions
anxious emphasizes fear of frustration or failure or disappointment.
    • anxious not to make a social blunder
athirst stresses yearning but not necessarily readiness for action.
    • athirst for adventure

2

keen

verb

Definition of keen

intransitive verb
1 a : to make a loud and long cry of sorrow : to lament with a keen
b : to make a sound suggestive of a loud cry of sorrow
  • a keening siren
2 : to lament, mourn, or complain loudly
transitive verb
: to utter with a loud wailing voice or wordless cry
  • keened our sorrow
  • Punch

keener

noun

Examples of keen in a Sentence

  1. mourners keening at a funeral

  2. victims of the disaster have been keening for weeks about the slowness of governmental aid

Recent Examples of keen from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'keen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of keen

Irish caoinim I lament, weep


3

keen

noun

Definition of keen

: a lamentation for the dead uttered in a loud wailing voice or sometimes in a wordless cry

Examples of keen in a Sentence

  1. the loud keens of the widows were heard throughout the war-ravaged city

Recent Examples of keen from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'keen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of keen

see 1keen



KEEN Defined for English Language Learners

keen

adjective

Definition of keen for English Language Learners

  • : having or showing an ability to think clearly and to understand what is not obvious or simple about something

  • : very strong and sensitive : highly developed

  • : very excited about and interested in something


keen

verb

Definition of keen for English Language Learners

  • : to make a loud and long cry of sorrow


KEEN Defined for Kids

keen

adjective \ ˈkēn \

Definition of keen for Students

keener; keenest
1 : having a fine edge or point : sharp
  • a keen knife
2 : having or showing mental sharpness
  • a keen observation
3 : very sensitive (as in seeing, smelling, or hearing)
  • keen eyesight
4 : full of enthusiasm : eager
  • … everybody was very keen to hear details of what had happened …
  • —J. K. Rowling, Goblet of Fire
5 : seeming to cut or sting
  • a keen wind

keenly

adverb

keenness

noun


Seen and Heard

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