There are 2 main definitions of keen in English:

keen1

Line breaks: keen
Pronunciation: /kiːn
 
/

adjective

1chiefly British Having or showing eagerness or enthusiasm: a keen gardener John was keen to help
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.
Synonyms
eager, anxious, impatient, determined, desirous, longing, wishing, itching, dying, yearning, ambitious, ready;
intent on
informal raring
willing, conscientious, committed, dedicated;
diligent, earnest, industrious, assiduous, intent
1.1 (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.
Synonyms
enthusiastic about, interested in, passionate about, fascinated by;
attracted to, fond of, taken with, smitten with, enamoured of, attached to, devoted to, infatuated with;
eager for, hungry for
informal struck on, sweet on, gone on, mad about, crazy about, nuts about, into
North American informal twitterpated by
2Sharp or penetrating, in particular:
More 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.
2.1(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.
Synonyms
acute, sharp, penetrating, discerning, sensitive, perceptive, piercing, clear, observant;
powerful
2.2(Of mental faculties) quick to understand: 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.
Synonyms
2.3(Of the edge or point of a blade) sharp: the keen blade went through the weeds
More 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.
Synonyms
2.4(Of the air or wind) extremely cold; biting: a keen wind cut through their thick overalls
More 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.
Synonyms
penetrating, piercing, biting, sharp, stinging
2.5 literary (Of a smell, light, or sound) penetrating; clear: ear-splitting explosive bursts, keen and sharp
More example sentences
  • 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
More example sentences
  • Among Earnhardt's many passions was a keen love of deer hunting, fishing, and recreational activities.
  • Cricket was my keen interest, my passion and my everlasting love.
  • The league is set to provide a lot of interest and keen competition among the enthusiasts.
Synonyms
3(Of prices) very low; competitive: we offer extremely keen rates
More 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.
4 [predicative] North American informal , dated 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.

Phrases

(as) keen as mustard

British informal Extremely eager or enthusiastic.
More example sentences
  • He was keen as mustard to go and help, but we have been missing him and he's been missing us.
  • Being keen as mustard, we decided to walk from the station to the hotel.
  • Smith is just 21 and an emerging talent; bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, keen as mustard.

Derivatives

keenly

adverb
More example sentences
  • He was keenly aware of the terrible dangers of the atomic age and did his best to warn the world.
  • Nowhere is the pathos of this tradition felt more keenly than in the post-colonial world.
  • You observe personal relationships keenly and express yourself in subtle terms.

Definition of keen in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

There are 2 main definitions of keen in English:

keen2

Line breaks: keen
Pronunciation: /kiːn
 
/

verb

[no object]
1Wail in grief for a dead person: the body of Johnny was taken by his own people who keened over him (as adjective keening) their keening womenfolk
More 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.

noun

Back to top  

Origin

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

Derivatives

keener

noun
More example sentences
  • The Wangs spent a total of 1,000 yuan on hiring the keeners, all poor men and women who were mobilized to form a band on their own.
  • In the end the keeners stalked the funeral processions screaming and shrieking all the more like vengeful banshees and had to be chased by the priests and their acolytes brandishing huge sticks and launching rocks in their direction.

Definition of keen in: