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

If the Iranians were keen on not being caught, this was a strange way to go about it. Steve Chapman, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Trump’s clueless Iran policy lurches the U.S. toward war," 19 June 2019 The 63-year-old is keen on gardening, eating right and spending time with family at their getaway in the New South Wales Southern Highlands. Lars Brandle, Billboard, "Jimmy Barnes Reflects on Making Chart History, Surviving and Living the Good Life," 11 June 2019 Innovations were sometimes discouraged by either the earlier family generation who were keen on maintaining the tradition, or peer shinise firms who cared about maintaining the tradition of the industry as a whole. Innan Sasaki, Quartz at Work, "How to build a business that will last centuries," 10 June 2019 For those who aren’t so keen to rappel down the walls of a centuries-old castle, there are other opportunities to get involved. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Calling All Green Thumbs! A Legendary British Island Is Looking to Hire a Resident Gardener," 5 June 2019 Halo had to learn to rely on her keen senses of smell and hearing to search for hidden people. Washington Post, "Real, furry superheroes get their own movie," 4 June 2019 After years of relative inaction on the transfer market, club President Florentino Perez appears to be keen to put a new gloss on the club's tarnished reputation after a poor season in which they were overshadowed by rivals Barcelona. chicagotribune.com, "Real Madrid snap up Serb starlet Jovic in transfer coup," 4 June 2019 This is one area in which SpaceX is especially keen to find partners. Ben Pearson, Ars Technica, "SpaceX beginning to tackle some of the big challenges for a Mars journey," 3 June 2019 This idea has been rejected by voices across the British political divide, with lawmakers keen to be seen as defenders of a venerated institution. NBC News, "This is what the U.S. wants from the U.K. before it will sign a trade deal," 3 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Kid zombies maraud the local gas station for candy while adults wander outside the pharmacy listlessly keening for Xanax. Katie Walsh, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Bill Murray, Adam Driver battle zombies in ‘The Dead Don’t Die’," 13 June 2019 But the soaring cost of housing has become a growing source of urban popular outrage (particularly among younger workers keen to live on their own, but whose earnings barely cover mortgage payments). Gwynn Guilford, Quartz, "China’s debt disease might wreck its uncrashable housing market," 11 June 2019 As such, Antonio's future with the club has bee cast into doubt with new Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini reportedly keen on acquiring Lazio's Brazilian attacker Felipe Anderson. SI.com, "West Ham Open to Letting Struggling Star Leave Amid Fulham and Crystal Palace Interest," 1 June 2018 With each side protective of its secrets, and possibly keen to spread disinformation, the full story may never be known. Fares Akram, The Seattle Times, "Palestinians offer new details of Israel’s botched Gaza raid," 12 Dec. 2018 The Mirror claim that the Frenchman has agreed to join Arsene Wenger's side, with the Gunners keen to wrap up the deal this month for a fee believed to be in the region of £35m, although Los Blancos want £52.3m for the 30-year-old. SI.com, "Report: Arsenal Strikes Deal to Bring Karim Benzema to the Emirates," 27 Jan. 2018 With both United and the Gunners keen to make a deal happen, a Premier League arrival is a very feasible option for Sokratis - but nothing has emerged regarding his personal preference just yet. SI.com, "Jose Mourinho Reportedly Phones Arsenal Target & Dortmund Star as Man Utd Eye Potential Deal," 24 May 2018 Southampton are preparing a January swoop for Spartak Moscow winger Quincy Promes, with the player keen on a move to England, according to reports. SI.com, "Southampton Fight to Take Lead Over Liverpool in Race for £30m-Rated Winger Quincy Promes," 19 Jan. 2018 The Toffees are not the only club interested in signing the midfielder though, with a number of 'top six' clubs allegedly keen. SI.com, "Watford Reject Everton's €30m Bid for Star Player as Toffees Look to Bolster Midfield Squad Depth," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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

23 Jun 2019

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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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having a desire to acquire more things

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