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 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was an ardent fisherman, a keen gardener, and an active naturalist.’
    • ‘Hamish and his wife, Lesley, were expert fly fishers and keen gardeners.’
    • ‘She is a keen gardener, bird watcher, photographer and swimmer.’
    • ‘He was very keen and enthusiastic about learning.’
    • ‘I asked him why he thinks Kiwis are so keen for life on the edge.’
    • ‘Mr Henry is also a computer enthusiast and a keen motorcyclist.’
    • ‘By all accounts it was the usual huge success, with keen gardeners coming from all around to stock up on plants and gardening paraphernalia.’
    • ‘The competition is not just for keen gardeners.’
    • ‘They are keen to receive some tips on toilet training for Emily, who's three.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘I've given up my allotment and the school job,’ said Mick, who is 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘They are strict on discipline, keen on manners and don't tend to remain adventurous for long.’
      • ‘Both Van and I are keen on the idea of investing for the future, especially now we've got Alex.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I am not keen on a political debate on a legal procedure if the legal procedure is not known.’
      • ‘One reason I am not keen on them is that they work by causing vasoconstriction.’
      • ‘As a child, I was actually rather keen on the idea of spending a night in hospital.’
      • ‘I opted for shooting, which I have always been keen on since I was brought up as an Army kid.’
      • ‘If you are not keen on feta, use something else crumbly, such as Cheshire or Lancashire cheese.’
      • ‘If you're really not keen on cooking outdoors, take all your supplies with you.’
      • ‘At the moment, the shares are no obvious bargain for investors keen on value.’
      • ‘Advocates of social software are keen on seeking alternatives to mainstream politics.’
      • ‘My father had always been keen on sports and had played football in his younger days and then later cricket.’
      • ‘My background was two graduate professional parents who were very keen on academic success.’
      • ‘I wasn't madly keen on the upholstery but the padding was effective and molded to my back quickly.’
      • ‘Her daughter Sarah is also keen on plants and writes about gardening as well.’
      • ‘He's particularly keen on photographs or other interesting items from the past.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He told me that people in his country are very keen on promoting peace and friendship.’
      enthusiastic about, interested in, passionate about, fascinated by
      View synonyms
  • 2Sharp or penetrating, in particular:

    • ‘The courier surprised Dave with his keen insight into current global problems and his grasp of complex economic issues.’
    • ‘Also unsurprisingly, this article shows Franzen to have gained keen insight into what is, for him, a new area.’
    • ‘Beckford covers so much ground, and has so many keen insights on such diverse matters, that one sometimes loses sight of the forest for the trees.’
    • ‘Throw in some keen analysis and insight, and you have the most compelling evidence that the Internet is beginning to mirror society at large.’
    • ‘She also had an unusually keen grasp of the subtleties of croquet.’
    • ‘I look forward to you incisive commentary and keen analysis of this woefully neglected issue.’
    • ‘His concept is a keen insight into the environment - one that far exceeds what is taught at any war college.’
    • ‘I am pleased to have found such an excellent board, and I am grateful for their assistance and keen insight.’
    • ‘This mighty man of God uses his talents to offer keen insights into ancient and sacred biblical stories.’
    • ‘He will be long remembered for his keen insights into many facets of science and computation.’
    • ‘His previous experience supplying fixed blades to tactical types gave him keen insight into what these users wanted.’
    • ‘The data is there, but does not overshadow the story and how it is told - vividly, with keen insight and occasional bursts of wry humour.’
    • ‘St. John has a particularly roman face and expression, a sharp nose and a keen ability to perceive the interior state of his subject, at all costs.’
    • ‘Frost plays acoustic guitar and delivers her breathy vocals with a retro cool, a swinging '60s chanteuse with keen insights into modern life.’
    • ‘Some of his writings about health can serve as an object lesson of what can go wrong when a brilliant analyst and keen observer becomes a crusading social reformer.’
    • ‘Duke's article is also a keen insight into the motivations of others.’
    • ‘We ask as they get into harm's way that their minds will be keen, that they'll be sharp, that they'll be decisive.’
    • ‘But thanks to its rich source material, astute performances and keen direction, Smith's film manages to add up to much, much more.’
    • ‘He brings a keen and subtle mind to bear on a set of issues that sorely needs it.’
    • ‘Dutch is somewhat awkward, thus gets dumped on, but his keen insight wins him respect.’
    1. 2.1 (of a sense) highly developed:
      ‘I have keen eyesight’
      • ‘They have keen hearing and good senses of vision and smell.’
      • ‘With their poor eyesight and keen sense of smell, they can get dangerously close.’
      • ‘Its sight is marvellously keen, hearing exceedingly acute, and sense of smell wonderfully perfect.’
      • ‘Like most owls, Great Horned Owls have keen hearing and keen vision in low light, both adaptations for hunting at night.’
      • ‘Elves were known for their grace, beauty, keen eyesight, and sharp hearing.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The sense of smell is keen and the snout is used to probe when searching for food.’
      • ‘Like a sharp pair of fangs, quick forelegs, or keen hearing, our adept mind has insured the survival of our species.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In addition this animal has an exceptionally keen sense of smell.’
      • ‘Deer are extremely cautious animals with keen senses of smell and hearing.’
      • ‘Cover scents hide the hunter from an animal's keen sense of smell.’
      • ‘Most ray-finned fishes have keen hearing ability and sound production is common but not universal.’
      • ‘His quick and strong wrists, his reflex action, and keen eyesight all figured in his ability to succeed as a hitter.’
      acute, sharp, penetrating, discerning, sensitive, perceptive, piercing, clear, observant
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 (of mental faculties) quick to understand:
      ‘her keen intellect’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His quick imagination, his keen humor, and his gentleness made his visits occasions for celebration.’
      • ‘His sharp insights are conveyed through keen intelligence, humor, and wit.’
      • ‘Reyes is old-school but not old-fashioned, and has a keen sense for the highs and lows of a jazz tune.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘To her friends she is Karen, the self-assured and bright young woman, with a keen wit and plenty to say.’
      • ‘Quick intervention begins with keen sensitivity and sharp observation.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His sharp intellect, keen wit and urbane presence have been an asset of varying value to the Labour Party for almost 40 years.’
      • ‘We will miss his keen mind, his insight, his gentle, gracious manner, his caring nature, his mischievous sense of humour and his support.’
      • ‘He had a gentle, kindly manner, twinkling eyes and quick smile, a keen sense of humour and a penetrating wit.’
      • ‘Of course, it takes a keen military intellect to understand the strategic importance of blowing up empty buildings.’
      • ‘Harriet has the keen judgment and discerning intellect necessary to be an outstanding Counsel.’
      • ‘She was a very bright pupil of very keen intellect which stood her in good stead all through her long life.’
      • ‘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 also developed a keen sense of the future of research.’
      • ‘‘Feminine reason’ was about common sense and a keen perception of the everyday.’
      • ‘Readers of my diary will recognise me as a wise, avuncular figure with a keen mind and big heart.’
      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. 2.3 (of the edge or point of a blade) sharp:
      ‘the keen blade went through the weeds’
      • ‘After many modifications, the end result is an extremely tough, durable and sturdy blade that retains a keen edge over many years.’
      • ‘This is quality steel that takes and holds a keen edge.’
      • ‘The dagger followed after and she leaned back to escape its bite but its keen edge sliced along her cheek, doing minimal damage.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The knife was at her throat, its keen edge pressed against her larynx.’
      • ‘The long blades were keen and the handles were sky blue with a silver pommel and cross-guard.’
      • ‘Seizing an opportunity, he slashed upwards with his knife, the keen edge of his blade taking grip on the dog's neck.’
      • ‘But the treasure was in the blades - made of the finest bronze, honed to a keen edge.’
      • ‘Emma remembered when Rae had pressed the keen edge of the sword against her throat.’
      • ‘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.’
      sharp, sharp-edged, sharpened, honed, razor-like, razor-sharp, whetted, fine-edged
      View synonyms
    4. 2.4 (of the air or wind) extremely cold; biting:
      ‘a keen wind cut through their thick overalls’
      • ‘The day was blessed with bright sunshine, although a keen wind cut through Windsor's streets.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘Overhead a keen, high altitude wind hauls thin streaks of cirrus across the bright, clear blue sky.’
      cold, icy, freezing, harsh, raw, bitter
      View synonyms
    5. 2.5literary (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.’
  • 3British (of activity or feeling) intense:

    ‘there could be keen competition to provide the service’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For the participating companies, of which there will be over 400, the keen competition and fun will help foster team spirit.’
    • ‘The military, of course, took a keen interest in ensuring that all news was published ‘in the spirit of nationalism’.’
    • ‘Graham forces the viewer to experience, at one and the same time, two intensely contrary feelings - deadpan irony and keen longing.’
    • ‘Lara will again lead the team in this weekend's encounter, which promises to provide keen competition.’
    • ‘While the number of competing clubs was down on last year's entry the competition was, nevertheless, keen with some excellent individual scoring.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Competition is keen, and price increases tend to be modest.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This belief gave rise to a keen resentment which propelled many young people into political activism, and brought Duplessis to power in 1936.’
    • ‘Anticipation is keen, excitement is not far away, people are living for the moment.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The horsemen looking on with the keen anticipation of those about to be mightily entertained paid me the compliment of rapidly becoming bored.’
    intense, acute, extreme, fierce, violent, passionate, consuming, burning, fervent, fervid, ardent
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 (of prices) very low; competitive:
      ‘we offer extremely keen rates’
      • ‘They will stock a huge range of toys at keen prices.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Most well-run companies will have mainstream costs under control and will have professional buyers negotiating keen prices for all raw materials.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If they offer the car at a keen price, it should prove extremely popular with Irish buyers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However, these markets will be highly competitive, and consumers will demand keen prices.’
      • ‘Prices are keen, starting at €19,500 for the 1.4 litre saloon and an extra €200 for the estate body.’
      • ‘Many Italian merchants ship internationally and at keen prices so it pays to do some leg work.’
      • ‘It combines an attractive compact unit with all the multimedia features needed for home use at a keen price.’
      • ‘Prices are keen but beware that entry models have neither sun roof nor air conditioning.’
      • ‘Although their wines require a little extra effort to find, they boast an obvious authenticity and have huge rarity appeal and keen prices.’
      • ‘Whether they will be able to keep offering such keen prices if the banks become more cautious about property lending remains to be seen.’
      • ‘Their main aim is quality and value with keen prices.’
      • ‘And then there is the possibility of tasting, and buying wines direct from the source, which may involve keen prices and/or acquiring rarities.’
      • ‘Buying locally where possible, combined with unpackaged fruit and veg, enables the company to sell its organic produce at keen prices.’
      • ‘All artworks are on sale at very keen, competitive prices, so come along and enjoy the wonderful display.’
      reasonable, moderate, economical
      View synonyms
  • 4North American informal, dated [predicative] Excellent:

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

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]
  • 1 Wail in grief for a dead person:

    ‘the body of Johnny was taken by his own people who keened over him’
    ‘their keening womenfolk’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They keened and wailed outside the gates for hours.’
    • ‘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.’
    lament, mourn, weep, cry, sob, sorrow, grieve
    wail, moan, whine, whimper, groan, howl
    greet
    plain
    ululate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1usually as noun keening Make an eerie wailing sound:
      ‘the keening of the cold night wind’
      • ‘The air keening through the empty window seems colder somehow.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Listen long enough and you can hear the high-pitched, enthusiastic yip yowl of coyotes; the long, keening howl of the wolves.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The keening sound of the upper strings provides a lasting memorial for those departed.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Odd noises, strange instruments, keening vocals; its tunes wind themselves around your heart like drifting smoke.’
      • ‘Their songs have a certain keening shrillness that will leave all but the hardiest nerves frazzled and jangling.’
      • ‘Jessie was crying, a high, keening, terrified sound.’
      • ‘Here it's given a starker treatment, compellingly enhanced by Eliza's keening harmonies.’
      • ‘And Alex Thorne's high-pitched, keening vocals soar above the mix.’
      • ‘People naturally respond to the diminutive sax man's keening sound, funky rhythms and bluesy riffs.’
      • ‘As the van engine was switched off, a faint keening sound was audible from the back of the vehicle.’
      • ‘Her seminal musical works use what are called extended vocal techniques, such as overtone and throat singing, yodeling, keening, percussive sounds, and micro-tonality.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His pleasantly keening voice is just not enough.’
      • ‘Seagulls keened and skied, pelicans bobbed on the swells, sandpipers left sharp three-toed tracks along the tidal margin.’
      • ‘At 2:30 this morning I awakened suddenly from a sound sleep convinced I'd heard a keening cry.’
      • ‘Then there was the high keening wail of the emergency vehicles.’
      lament, mourn, weep, cry, sob, sorrow, grieve
      wail, moan, whine, whimper, groan, howl
      greet
      plain
      ululate
      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/