Main definitions of keen in English

: keen1keen2

keen1

adjective

  • 1British Having or showing eagerness or enthusiasm.

    ‘a keen gardener’
    ‘John was keen to help’
    • ‘The competition is not just for keen gardeners.’
    • ‘He was very keen and enthusiastic about learning.’
    • ‘By all accounts it was the usual huge success, with keen gardeners coming from all around to stock up on plants and gardening paraphernalia.’
    • ‘‘I've given up my allotment and the school job,’ said Mick, who is a keen gardener.’
    • ‘He was an ardent fisherman, a keen gardener, and an active naturalist.’
    • ‘The community includes some ex-offenders and takes referrals from the prison service, but charity chiefs were keen to point out that a whole range of people live there.’
    • ‘The keen gardener, who has had an allotment for nearly seven years, said his plot had vegetables ripped up, tools thrown around and specialist plant frames smashed.’
    • ‘Since we were keen to try their range of fish, we avoided ordering directly from the menu and instead asked for a special platter to be made up.’
    • ‘The band were keen to promote some of their newer singles but snuck them in between old favourites to keep the crowd satisfied.’
    • ‘Hamish and his wife, Lesley, were expert fly fishers and keen gardeners.’
    • ‘Jamie, who has been a keen rally enthusiast since his early teens, is said to be making good progress despite the extensive injuries he sustained.’
    • ‘She is a keen gardener, bird watcher, photographer and swimmer.’
    • ‘As well as being a keen rambler, Mrs Kirby, who lived on her own following the death of her husband, liked to stay fit and was also a keen gardener.’
    • ‘Many of you reading this will know that I am a keen player of that fine old brass instrument, the French Horn.’
    • ‘Mr Henry is also a computer enthusiast and a keen motorcyclist.’
    • ‘The areas round the house, where the borders are filled with herbaceous plants, were the territory of his wife, Elisabeth, an equally keen gardener, who died last year.’
    • ‘They are keen to receive some tips on toilet training for Emily, who's three.’
    • ‘This will be a unique opportunity for keen gardeners to buy rare and unusual plants, many of which are not obtainable from local garden centres.’
    • ‘The record was mostly recorded in a residential studio, as the band were keen to distance themselves from the distractions of everyday life.’
    • ‘I asked him why he thinks Kiwis are so keen for life on the edge.’
    eager, anxious, impatient, determined, desirous, longing, wishing, itching, dying, yearning, ambitious, ready
    enthusiastic, avid, eager, ardent, passionate, fervent, fervid, impassioned, wholehearted, zestful, zealous, driven
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1keen on Interested in or attracted by (someone or something)
      ‘Bob makes it obvious he's keen on her’
      • ‘Advocates of social software are keen on seeking alternatives to mainstream politics.’
      • ‘If you're really not keen on cooking outdoors, take all your supplies with you.’
      • ‘I wasn't madly keen on the upholstery but the padding was effective and molded to my back quickly.’
      • ‘One reason I am not keen on them is that they work by causing vasoconstriction.’
      • ‘I am not keen on a political debate on a legal procedure if the legal procedure is not known.’
      • ‘I know few jobbing hacks in London who were keen on this particular assignment.’
      • ‘She is not too keen on the boys in her class and thinks there is no hope for them.’
      • ‘Her daughter Sarah is also keen on plants and writes about gardening as well.’
      • ‘As a child, I was actually rather keen on the idea of spending a night in hospital.’
      • ‘My father had always been keen on sports and had played football in his younger days and then later cricket.’
      • ‘I opted for shooting, which I have always been keen on since I was brought up as an Army kid.’
      • ‘At the moment, the shares are no obvious bargain for investors keen on value.’
      • ‘If you are not keen on feta, use something else crumbly, such as Cheshire or Lancashire cheese.’
      • ‘They are strict on discipline, keen on manners and don't tend to remain adventurous for long.’
      • ‘Round here, we are not very keen on the notion of banning words of any kind.’
      • ‘I've never been too keen on hot weather and with my illness it drains me even more.’
      • ‘He told me that people in his country are very keen on promoting peace and friendship.’
      • ‘My background was two graduate professional parents who were very keen on academic success.’
      • ‘He's particularly keen on photographs or other interesting items from the past.’
      • ‘Both Van and I are keen on the idea of investing for the future, especially now we've got Alex.’
      enthusiastic about, interested in, passionate about, fascinated by
      View synonyms
  • 2(of a sense) highly developed.

    ‘I have keen eyesight’
    • ‘In addition this animal has an exceptionally keen sense of smell.’
    • ‘Cover scents hide the hunter from an animal's keen sense of smell.’
    • ‘His quick and strong wrists, his reflex action, and keen eyesight all figured in his ability to succeed as a hitter.’
    • ‘Elves were known for their grace, beauty, keen eyesight, and sharp hearing.’
    • ‘Like most owls, Great Horned Owls have keen hearing and keen vision in low light, both adaptations for hunting at night.’
    • ‘With their poor eyesight and keen sense of smell, they can get dangerously close.’
    • ‘They have keen hearing and good senses of vision and smell.’
    • ‘He is powerfully built, but lithe and well balanced, with a light footed, smooth and graceful gait, has a keen sense of smell and is well able to point, set and retrieve.’
    • ‘Like a sharp pair of fangs, quick forelegs, or keen hearing, our adept mind has insured the survival of our species.’
    • ‘Most ray-finned fishes have keen hearing ability and sound production is common but not universal.’
    • ‘In her latter years she suffered from failing eyesight and hearing but her other faculties remained keen and right to the end Mrs Rawlings retained an amazing memory of her life.’
    • ‘Its sight is marvellously keen, hearing exceedingly acute, and sense of smell wonderfully perfect.’
    • ‘Deer are extremely cautious animals with keen senses of smell and hearing.’
    • ‘The sense of smell is keen and the snout is used to probe when searching for food.’
    acute, sharp, penetrating, discerning, sensitive, perceptive, piercing, clear, observant
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Having or showing great perception or insight.
      ‘her keen intellect’
      ‘a keen understanding of animal psychology’
      • ‘She also developed a keen sense of the future of research.’
      • ‘Of course, it takes a keen military intellect to understand the strategic importance of blowing up empty buildings.’
      • ‘I was pleased with the fact that the court appeared to me to have a keen sense of understanding of what I thought were the critical issues.’
      • ‘He had a gentle, kindly manner, twinkling eyes and quick smile, a keen sense of humour and a penetrating wit.’
      • ‘We will miss his keen mind, his insight, his gentle, gracious manner, his caring nature, his mischievous sense of humour and his support.’
      • ‘Reyes is old-school but not old-fashioned, and has a keen sense for the highs and lows of a jazz tune.’
      • ‘The new leader will have to display strength of character, sturdiness of will, a keen intellect, a sense of humour and an ability to relate to the people of Scotland.’
      • ‘To her friends she is Karen, the self-assured and bright young woman, with a keen wit and plenty to say.’
      • ‘His quick imagination, his keen humor, and his gentleness made his visits occasions for celebration.’
      • ‘Harriet has the keen judgment and discerning intellect necessary to be an outstanding Counsel.’
      • ‘Readers of my diary will recognise me as a wise, avuncular figure with a keen mind and big heart.’
      • ‘‘Feminine reason’ was about common sense and a keen perception of the everyday.’
      • ‘So it followed naturally that she would later use her sharp eye, keen intelligence, and inquisitive nature to create stories about the people and things she observed.’
      • ‘She was a very bright pupil of very keen intellect which stood her in good stead all through her long life.’
      • ‘His sharp insights are conveyed through keen intelligence, humor, and wit.’
      • ‘Quick intervention begins with keen sensitivity and sharp observation.’
      • ‘His sharp intellect, keen wit and urbane presence have been an asset of varying value to the Labour Party for almost 40 years.’
      • ‘He's made it to the top of his profession on his own terms, armed with a sharp intellect, a rakish charm, keen wit and passionate belief in justice.’
      acute, penetrating, astute, incisive, sharp, perceptive, piercing, rapier-like, razor-like, razor-sharp, perspicacious, shrewd, subtle, finely honed, quick-witted, sharp-witted, discerning, clever, intelligent, brilliant, bright, smart, wise, canny, percipient, insightful, sagacious, sapient
      View synonyms
  • 3(of the edge or point of a blade) sharp.

    ‘the keen blade went through the weeds’
    • ‘The dagger followed after and she leaned back to escape its bite but its keen edge sliced along her cheek, doing minimal damage.’
    • ‘The keen edge cut through his glove easily and into his hand, blood seeping from the cut and dripping onto the pavement.’
    • ‘He swept his black blade around in a flat, horizontal arc, watching in satisfaction as the keen edge drew nearer and nearer to Anya's midsection.’
    • ‘This is quality steel that takes and holds a keen edge.’
    • ‘The long blades were keen and the handles were sky blue with a silver pommel and cross-guard.’
    • ‘But the treasure was in the blades - made of the finest bronze, honed to a keen edge.’
    • ‘The knife was at her throat, its keen edge pressed against her larynx.’
    • ‘Emma remembered when Rae had pressed the keen edge of the sword against her throat.’
    • ‘I stared at the knife in my hand for a long time, turning it over and over in my hands, admiring the keen edge and the gleaming metal that made the blade.’
    • ‘After many modifications, the end result is an extremely tough, durable and sturdy blade that retains a keen edge over many years.’
    • ‘Seizing an opportunity, he slashed upwards with his knife, the keen edge of his blade taking grip on the dog's neck.’
    sharp, sharp-edged, sharpened, honed, razor-like, razor-sharp, whetted, fine-edged
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 (of the air or wind) extremely cold; biting.
      ‘a keen wind cut through their thick overalls’
      • ‘Overhead a keen, high altitude wind hauls thin streaks of cirrus across the bright, clear blue sky.’
      • ‘The steering arm thrums under their hand, the deck heaves beneath their feet and the keen salt wind cuts like a knife through even a good sealskin cloak.’
      • ‘Gone was Friday's bright sunshine, replaced by cloud and a keen wind that made hardy souls of those camped out overnight outside Westminster Abbey or along The Mall.’
      • ‘The day was blessed with bright sunshine, although a keen wind cut through Windsor's streets.’
      cold, icy, freezing, harsh, raw, bitter
      View synonyms
    2. 3.2literary (of a smell, light, or sound) penetrating; clear.
      ‘ear-splitting explosive bursts, keen and sharp’
      • ‘Claire gritted her teeth against the pain, a high, keen sound escaping her lips.’
  • 4British (of activity or feeling) intense.

    ‘there could be keen competition to provide the service’
    • ‘The military, of course, took a keen interest in ensuring that all news was published ‘in the spirit of nationalism’.’
    • ‘Auction results consistently show that there is a keen demand here in Ireland for contemporary art at affordable prices by both Irish and international artists.’
    • ‘While the number of competing clubs was down on last year's entry the competition was, nevertheless, keen with some excellent individual scoring.’
    • ‘Once again a very keen and competitive atmosphere was enhanced by the good weather.’
    • ‘Energy specialists project keen competition in Hungary by several foreign enterprises.’
    • ‘Graham forces the viewer to experience, at one and the same time, two intensely contrary feelings - deadpan irony and keen longing.’
    • ‘For the participating companies, of which there will be over 400, the keen competition and fun will help foster team spirit.’
    • ‘Competition is keen, and price increases tend to be modest.’
    • ‘Cricket was my keen interest, my passion and my everlasting love.’
    • ‘The early exchanges were keen and only excellent defending by Castlecomer prevented Tralee capitalising on a number of offensive moves.’
    • ‘The league is set to provide a lot of interest and keen competition among the enthusiasts.’
    • ‘Among Earnhardt's many passions was a keen love of deer hunting, fishing, and recreational activities.’
    • ‘Anticipation is keen, excitement is not far away, people are living for the moment.’
    • ‘Lara will again lead the team in this weekend's encounter, which promises to provide keen competition.’
    • ‘The horsemen looking on with the keen anticipation of those about to be mightily entertained paid me the compliment of rapidly becoming bored.’
    • ‘Fewer, larger farms, low prices and keen competition have made the economic services of many cooperatives redundant.’
    • ‘I await the outcome of this potentially interesting conference with keen anticipation.’
    • ‘This belief gave rise to a keen resentment which propelled many young people into political activism, and brought Duplessis to power in 1936.’
    intense, acute, extreme, fierce, violent, passionate, consuming, burning, fervent, fervid, ardent
    View synonyms
    1. 4.1 (of prices) very low; competitive.
      ‘we offer extremely keen rates’
      • ‘Their main aim is quality and value with keen prices.’
      • ‘You get the opportunity to enter a short description and you can see what other people are selling their copies for, giving you the opportunity to set a keen price if you want.’
      • ‘They will stock a huge range of toys at keen prices.’
      • ‘I particularly like getting shops to match Internet-only prices, which combines the convenience of shopping on the high street with the Web's keen price tags!’
      • ‘And then there is the possibility of tasting, and buying wines direct from the source, which may involve keen prices and/or acquiring rarities.’
      • ‘Many Italian merchants ship internationally and at keen prices so it pays to do some leg work.’
      • ‘Most well-run companies will have mainstream costs under control and will have professional buyers negotiating keen prices for all raw materials.’
      • ‘It makes no bones about offering reasonable food, at a keen price with friendly service.’
      • ‘If they find it impossible to source local Irish produce at keen prices, they must ship in much of their supplies from England and the continent.’
      • ‘Prices will be announced closer to launch date but if the new 1.6 litre diesel can be sold at a keen price, it will be the clear winner.’
      • ‘Whether they will be able to keep offering such keen prices if the banks become more cautious about property lending remains to be seen.’
      • ‘However, these markets will be highly competitive, and consumers will demand keen prices.’
      • ‘If they offer the car at a keen price, it should prove extremely popular with Irish buyers.’
      • ‘Ex-company cars at two to three years old can represent very good value for money if bought at keen prices, as they will have been serviced regularly under a lease plan.’
      • ‘All artworks are on sale at very keen, competitive prices, so come along and enjoy the wonderful display.’
      • ‘Buying locally where possible, combined with unpackaged fruit and veg, enables the company to sell its organic produce at keen prices.’
      • ‘Prices are keen but beware that entry models have neither sun roof nor air conditioning.’
      • ‘Prices are keen, starting at €19,500 for the 1.4 litre saloon and an extra €200 for the estate body.’
      • ‘It combines an attractive compact unit with all the multimedia features needed for home use at a keen price.’
      • ‘Although their wines require a little extra effort to find, they boast an obvious authenticity and have huge rarity appeal and keen prices.’
      reasonable, moderate, economical
      View synonyms
  • 5North American dated, informal predicative Excellent.

    ‘I would soon fly to distant stars—how keen!’

Phrases

  • (as) keen as mustard

    • informal Extremely eager or enthusiastic.

      • ‘Being keen as mustard, we decided to walk from the station to the hotel.’
      • ‘Admittedly I'm enjoying myself and like any other teenager I'm as keen as mustard.’
      • ‘By the time they get there they are totally jaded by the whole thing or keen as mustard to help.’
      • ‘We're not sure what it says about our city, but everyone seems as keen as mustard to get out of Shanghai whenever they get the chance.’
      • ‘In my time, he was young, quite quick and keen as mustard.’
      • ‘Under the circumstances I could have lost a certain amount of enthusiasm, but this was the first days' fishing of a new holiday and both of us were as keen as mustard to start fishing.’
      • ‘Smith is just 21 and an emerging talent; bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, keen as mustard.’
      • ‘But this is another exciting challenge, and I'm as keen as mustard for the boys to do well.’
      • ‘Hyde to be fair, played some very good cricket on a slow, low wicket and they were as keen as mustard when it came fielding, which was impressive.’
      • ‘He was keen as mustard to go and help, but we have been missing him and he's been missing us.’

Origin

Old English cēne ‘wise, clever’, also ‘brave, daring’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch koen and German kühn ‘bold, brave’. Current senses date from Middle English.

Pronunciation

keen

/kiːn/

Main definitions of keen in English

: keen1keen2

keen2

verb

[no object]
  • 1Wail in grief for a dead person.

    ‘the body of Johnny was taken by his own people who keened over him’
    ‘their keening womenfolk’
    • ‘She could hear voices speaking in soothing tones, but Anna keened and wailed, and Kathleen tried not to imagine the scene on the other side of the door.’
    • ‘They cried, they keened, they wailed.’
    • ‘When another daughter died in infancy she keened and mourned over the body for hours until the body finally had to be taken from her.’
    • ‘They keened and wailed outside the gates for hours.’
    • ‘Act Three ends powerfully, with the village in flames, good Soviet citizens hanging by their necks, and keening women, including one who is given a ‘mad scene’ of sorts.’
    lament, mourn, weep, cry, sob, sorrow, grieve
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1usually as noun keening Make an eerie wailing sound.
      ‘the keening of the cold night wind’
      • ‘At 2:30 this morning I awakened suddenly from a sound sleep convinced I'd heard a keening cry.’
      • ‘The air keening through the empty window seems colder somehow.’
      • ‘As the van engine was switched off, a faint keening sound was audible from the back of the vehicle.’
      • ‘Their songs have a certain keening shrillness that will leave all but the hardiest nerves frazzled and jangling.’
      • ‘Listen long enough and you can hear the high-pitched, enthusiastic yip yowl of coyotes; the long, keening howl of the wolves.’
      • ‘His pleasantly keening voice is just not enough.’
      • ‘She bent over and began to rock back and forth, and there was this keening sound that turned my whole body to ice, because no creature should ever have to be in this much pain.’
      • ‘And Alex Thorne's high-pitched, keening vocals soar above the mix.’
      • ‘And then she heard it, a faint, keening moan of despair.’
      • ‘His unique and keening vocal style was called the ‘high lonesome’, such was the uncanny depth of emotion it carried.’
      • ‘Seagulls keened and skied, pelicans bobbed on the swells, sandpipers left sharp three-toed tracks along the tidal margin.’
      • ‘The band's signature sound comprises spacey vibes and keening tones, laced through with breathy flute, a lot of struck guitar and very little regular rhythm.’
      • ‘The keening sound of the upper strings provides a lasting memorial for those departed.’
      • ‘Jessie was crying, a high, keening, terrified sound.’
      • ‘The opening song places keening flutes and whispered vocal over an insistent pulse of clay drums and thumb pianos, punctuated by occasional bursts of talking drum.’
      • ‘Then there was the high keening wail of the emergency vehicles.’
      • ‘People naturally respond to the diminutive sax man's keening sound, funky rhythms and bluesy riffs.’
      • ‘Odd noises, strange instruments, keening vocals; its tunes wind themselves around your heart like drifting smoke.’
      • ‘Here it's given a starker treatment, compellingly enhanced by Eliza's keening harmonies.’
      • ‘Her seminal musical works use what are called extended vocal techniques, such as overtone and throat singing, yodeling, keening, percussive sounds, and micro-tonality.’
      lament, mourn, weep, cry, sob, sorrow, grieve
      View synonyms

noun

  • An Irish funeral song accompanied by wailing in lamentation for the dead.

Origin

Mid 19th century: from Irish caoinim ‘I wail’.

Pronunciation

keen

/kiːn/