keen

adjective
\ ˈkēn How to pronounce keen (audio) \

Definition of keen

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : 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
2a(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
4a : 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
keen on
: very enthusiastic or excited about wasn't keen on going

keen

verb
keened; keening; keens

Definition of keen (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

1a : 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 sorrowPunch

keen

noun

Definition of keen (Entry 3 of 3)

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

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Other Words from keen

Adjective

keenly adverb
keenness \ ˈkēn-​nəs How to pronounce keenness (audio) \ noun

Verb

keener noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for keen

Synonyms: Adjective

acute, delicate, fine, perceptive, quick, sensitive, sharp

Synonyms: Verb

beef, bellyache, bitch, bleat, carp, caterwaul, complain, crab, croak, fuss, gripe, grizzle, grouch, grouse, growl, grumble, grump, holler, inveigh, kick, kvetch, maunder [chiefly British], moan, murmur, mutter, nag, repine, scream, squawk, squeal, wail, whimper, whine, whinge [British], yammer, yawp (or yaup), yowl

Synonyms: Noun

groan, howl, lament, lamentation, moan, plaint, wail

Antonyms: Verb

crow, delight, rejoice

Antonyms: Noun

exultation, rejoicing

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Choose the Right Synonym for keen

Adjective

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

Examples of keen in a Sentence

Adjective

When you've been trying to remember something and you suddenly remember it, the mental pleasure is keen. — Ian Frazier, Atlantic, October 2004 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 Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches, 1988 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 Carré, A Perfect Spy, 1986 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 Morison, The European Discovery of America, 1971 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'Brian, Master and Commander, 1970 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 Grey, Desert Gold, 1913 She's a very keen observer of the political world. pilots with especially keen eyesight

Verb

mourners keening at a funeral victims of the disaster have been keening for weeks about the slowness of governmental aid

Noun

the loud keens of the widows were heard throughout the war-ravaged city
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Rabbi Rosenberg is keen to see the perpetrators finally face legal consequences. Linda Stasi, Harper's magazine, "Secrets and Lies," 16 Sep. 2019 True, Trump's rivals are keen to highlight consequences of his China tariffs, which are beginning to inflict severe pain on farmers in key battleground states like Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Fortune, "Do U.S. Democrats Have a Better China Strategy?," 14 Sep. 2019 Scientists like Masic are keen to learn more about them in hopes of slowing or stopping that degradation. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "The secret to miraculous preservation of a Dead Sea Scroll could be salt coating," 11 Sep. 2019 However, not every tech company is keen to speak out on Google, citing its power as well as its importance to many smaller tech companies. David Ingram, NBC News, "'Ransom': Google faces antitrust probes — and that's emboldening some of its critics," 9 Sep. 2019 Payne is keen to open up the AI field, which many say is rife with bias. Jenny Anderson, Quartz, "MIT developed a course to teach tweens about the ethics of AI," 4 Sep. 2019 Baghdad was nominated as the 2013 Arab Capital of Culture, and officials were keen to spruce up its marquee attractions. Peter Schwartzstein, Smithsonian, "What the Restoration of Iraq’s Oldest University Says About the Nation’s Future," 4 Sep. 2019 What are your thoughts on how Australia’s festivals scene is tracking and whether LN is keen to expand its interests in festivals land? Lars Brandle, Billboard, "Live Nation's Alan Ridgeway Talks Fortitude Music Hall and Australia's Live Scene: 'No Signs of Letting Up'," 27 Aug. 2019 But the Raiders were also keen to move Thursday’s game because of money. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, "Kurtenbach: The Raiders’ off-field drama now extends to the field — literally," 22 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

His talent has lead to interest from Germany, with Borussia Dortmund reportedly keen on the forward. SI.com, "Liverpool Attempt to Hold Off Dortmund Interest by Handing Youngster First-Team Chances," 12 July 2019 Mainlanders keen for a flutter must travel to Macau’s extravagant casinos or to Hong Kong’s jockey clubs. The Economist, "The Chinese state manages the world’s second-biggest lottery industry," 29 Aug. 2019 The cogent overview of Wells Fargo, still without a CEO, and the keening article about the 1619 Celebration in Hampton, Va., provided context and clarity that immediately took me to the heart of these issues. Letter Writers, Twin Cities, "Letters: Make good use of the next couple of months: renegotiate trash in St. Paul," 29 Aug. 2019 The two clubs have reportedly held further talks, with the Gers keen to get any deal signed off before the Scottish transfer window closes at the end of the month. SI.com, "Rangers Chiefs Give Green Light to Offer Which Could Lead to Biggest Transfer in 17 Years," 24 Aug. 2019 The sparse soundtrack is made up of silence and female voices keening, singing and shrieking, a deeply unpleasant sonic quilt. Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Ladyworld’ with Maya Hawke,’ plus Bud doc ‘Kings of Beer,’ ‘Consequences’ and ‘Moop’," 1 Aug. 2019 So there is an opening for other countries keen to attract Chinese money, including a number in Europe, such as Greece, Portugal and Malta (which also offers citizenship). The Economist, "Chinese are big customers for schemes selling foreign residency," 18 July 2019 The 26-year-old has been linked all summer long with a move to the Red Devils, with neighbourhood rivals Manchester City also keen to snap up one of England's first choice central defenders. SI.com, "Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Admits Man Utd Will Have to Sell Centre-Back if They Sign Harry Maguire," 16 July 2019 Dani discovers Christian in flagrante and finally lets out her howling grief, surrounded by a half-dozen girls who match her keening with their own. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Midsommar’s twisted ending, explained," 3 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

And his number one target is now Rose, with the 60-year-old keen to beat both Schalke and PSG to the Englishman's signature. SI.com, "Juventus Manager Maurizio Sarri Eyes Move for Danny Rose as Schalke & PSG Also Chase Left Back," 23 July 2019 Thousands of men, keen of brain and firm of purpose, are enlisted on both sides, spending vast sums of money, and operating entire navies on the seas, and airplanes and motor fleets on land. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Rewind: What Guarding Uncle Sam's Borders Was Like in 1925," 11 Feb. 2019 It is reported that United are not the only side keen on Kovacic, with Juventus, Inter and Tottenham also reportedly interested in his signature. SI.com, "Man Utd Interested in Real Madrid's Mateo Kovacic as Jose Mourinho Targets Midfield Additions," 5 Feb. 2018 Lacy, a keen and experienced motorcyclist, was killed Nov. 30 in a motorcycle crash in Botswana. Will Higgins, Indianapolis Star, "Deaths of 2017: Indiana celebrities and 'everyday Hoosiers' we lost," 26 Dec. 2017 Fenway, an all black shorthair, was overweight, slow-moving and keen on sleeping 23 hours a day. Unless food was involved. Stefan Stevenson, star-telegram, "Saying goodbye to a food-loving friend, Fenway the cat," 4 Nov. 2017 Well, that's a little more adventure than my Keens have seen. Christopher Elliott, USA TODAY, "The best shoes for your summer trip," 28 May 2017 His voice has the South in it, and the hysterical keen of a chainsaw. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "Herman Melville, Volume I," 27 Mar. 2017

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.

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First Known Use of keen

Adjective

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4a

Verb

1845, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Noun

1830, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for keen

Adjective and Noun

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

Verb

Irish caoinim I lament, weep

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Statistics for keen

Last Updated

13 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for keen

The first known use of keen was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for keen

keen

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of keen

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

English Language Learners Definition of keen (Entry 2 of 2)

old-fashioned + literary : to make a loud and long cry of sorrow

keen

adjective
\ ˈkēn How to pronounce keen (audio) \
keener; keenest

Kids Definition of keen

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

Other Words from keen

keenly adverb
keenness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on keen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for keen

Spanish Central: Translation of keen

Nglish: Translation of keen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of keen for Arabic Speakers

Comments on keen

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