December 10, 2018
keen (verb)
\KEEN\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: to mourn in a loud wailing voice
How do you use it?
It was the custom in that culture for new widows to mourn by beating their chests and keening.
Are you a word wiz?

Where do you think we get the verb "keen" from?

Don't weep if you didn't choose A, our correct answer. The verb "keen" is from the Irish "caoinim," which means "I lament" or "I weep," and it came into English in the mid-1800s. Why does the English word look so different from the Irish word? Probably because its spelling was influenced by the earlier English word "keen," which means "sharp." English borrowed many words from Irish in the 1800s, including "brogan" (a kind of heavy shoe) and "smithereens" (many small pieces). A famine in Ireland during the 1840s may be the reason: many Irish people emigrated to English-speaking countries and brought Irish vocabulary with them.
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