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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

KEEN, adj., n.2 Sc. usages:

I. adj. 1. Of persons: lively, brisk, with renewed vigour after an illness (Sh., n.Sc., Ags., Per., m.Lth. 1959); of animals: full of “go”, spirited, as a horse after a spell of idleness, or a dog in hunting (Sc. 1902 E.D.D.; n.Sc., Ags., Fif., sm.Sc. 1959); of ice in curling: crisp, smooth (Ayr. 1959).Sc. 1833 J. Cairnie Curling 134:
Baugh Ice. — Ice that is not keen . . . Gleg. — Keen ice.
Sc. 1890 J. Kerr Hist. Curling 398:
Nearly all the stones are now made with reversible soles — the one for keen, the other for baugh ice.
Abd. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 45, 46:
'E turnt a bonnie dog, an' keen; . . . The hens fyles got a driffle tee Fin ye wis keen.
Bnff.2 1941:
The colt was some keen in the mornin', but sattle't doon efter a roon or twa in the ploo.

2. Of a person: avaricious, driving a hard bargain, looking sharply after his own interests (Sc. 1902 E.D.D.; Sh., Cai., Ags., Lth., Bwk., sm.Sc., Rxb., Uls. 1959). Also in Eng. dial. Phr. and Comb.: (1) keen-bitten, eager, sharp (Kcb. 1959); (2) to be keen o(f), to be eager to, fond of, have a liking for (Cai., Lnk., Rxb., Slk. 1959). Both also in n.Eng. dial. See O.(1) Kcb. 1899 Crockett Kit Kennedy viii.:
Jock was . . . keen-bitten as a dust-scattering wind of March.
(2) s.Sc. 1788 Letters Mrs Cockburn (1900) 198:
He was keen of coming to see me.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie lxxxviii.:
I'm desperate keen of flesh and tarts.
Sc. 1849 M. Oliphant M. Maitland xv.:
Sure to keep Mary away, though she might be keen of going before.
Rnf. 1861 J. Barr Poems 52:
I'm no sae keen o' men, As wed a man three times my age.
Fif.10 1941:
He's keen o' a' that kin' o' nonsense.

3. Of prices: good, competitive. Gen.Sc. Phr. keen-cut, sharp, of competition in business; hence of prices: reduced competitively, below the usual retail prices. Used substantivally in Peb. 1899 quot.Peb. 1899 J. Grosart Chronicles 33:
These prices were not “keen cuts,” but quite ordinary.
Ayr. 1899 H. J. Steven Old Cumnock ii.:
Keen-cut competition made it difficult to earn even a living wage at the trade.
Sh. 1928 Manson's Almanac 203:
Only goods of first class quality stocked. All at keenest cash prices.
Rs. p.1951 Rs. & Crm. Official Guide 1:
Good Quality Furniture at Keen Competitive Prices.

II. n. A small crack on the fingers caused by frost or cold (sm.Sc. 1959).

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"Keen adj., n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Jun 2024 <>



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