There are 2 main definitions of keen in English:

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keen 1

Syllabification: keen


1Sharp or penetrating, in particular.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • I look forward to you incisive commentary and keen analysis of this woefully neglected issue.
  • She also had an unusually keen grasp of the subtleties of croquet.
1.1(Of a sense) highly developed: I have keen eyesight
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • The sense of smell is keen and the snout is used to probe when searching for food.
acute, sharp, discerning, sensitive, perceptive, clear
1.2(Of mental faculties) quick to understand or function: her keen intellect
More example sentences
  • Of course, it takes a keen military intellect to understand the strategic importance of blowing up empty buildings.
  • He had a gentle, kindly manner, twinkling eyes and quick smile, a keen sense of humour and a penetrating wit.
  • His sharp intellect, keen wit and urbane presence have been an asset of varying value to the Labour Party for almost 40 years.
1.3(Of the air or wind) extremely cold; biting.
Example sentences
  • 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.
1.4(Of the edge or point of a blade) sharp.
Example sentences
  • Seizing an opportunity, he slashed upwards with his knife, the keen edge of his blade taking grip on the dog's neck.
  • After many modifications, the end result is an extremely tough, durable and sturdy blade that retains a keen edge over many years.
  • 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.
1.5 literary (Of a smell, light, or sound) penetrating; clear.
Example sentences
  • Claire gritted her teeth against the pain, a high, keen sound escaping her lips.
2Having or showing eagerness or enthusiasm: keen believers in the monetary system a keen desire to learn
More example sentences
  • He was very keen and enthusiastic about learning.
  • He was an ardent fisherman, a keen gardener, and an active naturalist.
  • 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.
eager, anxious, intent, impatient, determined, ambitious, champing at the bit
informal raring, itching, dying
enthusiastic, avid, eager, ardent, passionate, fervent, impassioned;
conscientious, committed, dedicated, zealous
2.1 [predicative] (keen on) Interested in or attracted by (someone or something): Bob makes it obvious he’s keen on her
More example sentences
  • He's particularly keen on photographs or other interesting items from the past.
  • 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.
enthusiastic about, interested in, passionate about;
attracted to, fond of, taken with, smitten with, enamored of, infatuated with
informal struck on, hot on/for, mad about, crazy about, nuts about
3 [predicative] North American informal, dated Excellent: I would soon fly to distant stars—how keen!
4British (Of prices) very low; competitive.
Example sentences
  • Most well-run companies will have mainstream costs under control and will have professional buyers negotiating keen prices for all raw materials.
  • Prices are keen, starting at €19,500 for the 1.4 litre saloon and an extra €200 for the estate body.
  • 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.


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.

Words that rhyme with keen

Aberdeen, Amin, aquamarine, baleen, bean, been, beguine, Benin, between, canteen, careen, Claudine, clean, contravene, convene, cuisine, dean, Dene, e'en, eighteen, fascine, fedayeen, fifteen, figurine, foreseen, fourteen, Francine, gean, gene, glean, gombeen, green, Greene, Halloween, intervene, Janine, Jean, Jeannine, Jolene, Kean, Keene, Ladin, langoustine, latrine, lean, limousine, machine, Maclean, magazine, Malines, margarine, marine, Mascarene, Massine, Maxine, mean, Medellín, mesne, mien, Moline, moreen, mujahedin, Nadine, nankeen, Nazarene, Nene, nineteen, nougatine, obscene, palanquin, peen, poteen, preen, quean, Rabin, Racine, ramin, ravine, routine, Sabine, saltine, sardine, sarin, sateen, scene, screen, seen, serene, seventeen, shagreen, shebeen, sheen, sixteen, spleen, spring-clean, squireen, Steen, submarine, supervene, tambourine, tangerine, teen, terrine, thirteen, transmarine, treen, tureen, Tyrrhene, ultramarine, umpteen, velveteen, wean, ween, Wheen, yean
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There are 2 main definitions of keen in English:

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keen 2 Syllabification: keen


[no object]
1Wail in grief for a dead person; sing a keen.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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 cried, they keened, they wailed.
1.1 (usually as noun keening) Make an eerie wailing sound: the keening of the cold night wind
More example sentences
  • Her seminal musical works use what are called extended vocal techniques, such as overtone and throat singing, yodeling, keening, percussive sounds, and micro-tonality.
  • Then there was the high keening wail of the emergency vehicles.
  • His pleasantly keening voice is just not enough.


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


Mid 19th century: from Irish caoinim 'I wail'.

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