Definition of quicken in US English:



  • 1Make or become faster or quicker.

    with object ‘she quickened her pace, desperate to escape’
    no object ‘I felt my pulse quicken’
    • ‘In the second half of the race, the pace quickened and the attacks began.’
    • ‘It goes to show that work on the canal is beginning to quicken and that this project can work.’
    • ‘Asha waited expectantly, with a trace of fear and curiosity, her heartbeat quickening slightly at the prospect.’
    • ‘As the ‘kurathi’ started narrating her tale of woe, the pace of the songs quickened as did the steps of her dance.’
    • ‘The heart rate and breathing quickens, muscles become tense and senses become heightened.’
    • ‘Instead of turning around I quicken my pace, stepping into an entranceway, pressing myself back against the door in fear.’
    • ‘Still, the contenders' pulses will be quickening this morning.’
    • ‘The new films ultimately could quicken the recovery of burn victims and patients with skin ulcers and bedsores, the team asserts.’
    • ‘Her heartbeat quickens when the footsteps suddenly stop, and the door to the bedroom opens and closes.’
    • ‘She also urged Japan to quicken the pace of a project aimed at disposing of the huge stockpiles of chemical weapons left in China by retreating Japanese armies.’
    • ‘Hormonal changes during pregnancy could have quickened the process, they learned.’
    • ‘I open my eyes and my pulse quickens and the fear rises within me as the contents of the room pull into focus.’
    • ‘The rules change that allows the use of disc brakes has helped me hold the Plymouth at the starting line, and the LED Tree has quickened my reaction times.’
    • ‘The current quickens and the kayak begins to hurtle towards the tongue of smooth water.’
    • ‘As I read the first paragraph of the letter, my heart rate quickened.’
    • ‘The big finale, which should be an edge-of-seat cliffhanger, barely quickens the pulse, and merely provides Willis with the opportunity to grandstand.’
    • ‘He hopes this will quicken his reaction to the ball.’
    • ‘The bandsmen, all dressed in their serious splendour, played at a determined pace, which quickened the pulse.’
    • ‘Hearing how bullfighters dramatically flirt with death in the work of an afternoon quickens the pulse; and wandering the old streets of Seville in the bright Andalusian sunshine cannot fail to stimulate your imagination, too.’
    • ‘The pulse quickens at the sight of the low range of hills which interpose themselves between the fields and the Libyan Desert - the final resting places of the pharaohs and their families.’
    speed up, accelerate, step up, hasten, hurry, hurry up
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  • 2Stimulate or become stimulated.

    no object ‘her interest quickened’
    with object ‘the coroner's words suddenly quickened his own memories’
    • ‘It also says recent RBOC announcements about fiber and TV reflect a quickening of interest in the U.S. over the past six months.’
    • ‘Two or three cups of the stalks, with leaves put into a cup of wine, especially claret, are known to quicken the spirits, refresh and cheer the heart, and drive away melancholy.’
    • ‘Now, that quickening we call interest originates in the nervous system, but is not limited by it.’
    • ‘Adriana listened without comment, setting herself at a distance from the old pains quickened by his words.’
    • ‘Despite himself, Davis felt a quickening of the old scientific curiosity.’
    • ‘And though he is never less than insightful, it's tempting to divine a special quickening when Heaney writes about his countrymen.’
    • ‘Interest will quicken in the discarded, spartan works of Bacewicz and Baird, inspiring a generational revival.’
    • ‘In 1773 he became sheriff of Bedford, where an inspection of the local jail quickened his interest in the sufferings of prisoners.’
    • ‘Yet, obviously, such transference might quicken interest and offer other ways of thinking about a subject.’
    • ‘Like nationalistic impulses elsewhere, the Arab manifestation quickened in the nineteenth century.’
    • ‘Historically, so far as I can understand, periods of spiritual quickening and revival have gone in hand with God's people coming together to pray.’
    stimulate, excite, stir up, arouse, rouse, waken, animate, activate, incite, galvanize, instigate, whet, inspire, kindle, fan, refresh, strengthen, invigorate, reanimate, reactivate, revive, revitalize, resuscitate, revivify
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    1. 2.1with object Give or restore life to.
      ‘on the third day after his death the human body of Jesus was quickened by the Spirit’
      • ‘The corpse is then made to swallow crushed rose petals, infused with Azoth, which quicken the corpse to life.’
      • ‘As the body without the soul is dead, so the soul without the Spirit is dead, and one work of the Spirit is to quicken the dead soul by breathing into it the living spirit.’
      • ‘We trembled from the initial bolt of lightning to the moment when the quickened corpse stirred, arose and lurched from the laboratory table.’
    2. 2.2archaic with object Cause (a fire) to burn.
      • ‘To quicken the flames, benzine and oil were used in great quantities.’
      • ‘An executioner in the foreground quickens the fire with a pair of bellows, whilst another pours the boiling liquid over the Saint.’
      • ‘Never break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time.’
  • 3archaic no object (of a woman) reach a stage in pregnancy when movements of the fetus can be felt.

    • ‘When a lady is not pregnant the abdomen is soft and flaccid; when she is pregnant, and after she has quickened, the abdomen; over the region of the womb, is hard and resisting.’
    1. 3.1 (of a fetus) begin to show signs of life.
      • ‘When my first baby quickened I was walking up the street carrying a bag of shopping.’
      • ‘Up until the 19th century, a woman was deemed officially pregnant when she felt her fetus quicken, which was about four or five months after intercourse had occurred.’
      • ‘Abortions performed after quickening were an offence under British Common Law, but there were no fixed penalties and the woman having the abortion was not necessarily held responsible.’
      • ‘The imaginary quickening, marks the period when our ancestors believed the foetus to become endued with life and soul.’
      • ‘The Catholic church teaches that life begins at conception; it used to teach that life began at quickening, some 40 days into pregnancy.’