Keen vs Pretty - What's the difference?

keen | pretty | Related terms |

Keen is a related term of pretty.

As adjectives the difference between keen and pretty

is that keen is showing a quick and ardent willingness or responsiveness, enthusiastic, eager; interested, intense while pretty is cunning; clever, skilful.

As verbs the difference between keen and pretty

is that keen is (rare) to sharpen; to make cold or keen can be to utter a keen while pretty is to make pretty; to beautify.

As nouns the difference between keen and pretty

is that keen is a prolonged wail for a deceased person while pretty is something that is pretty.

As an adverb pretty is

somewhat, fairly, quite; sometimes also (by meiosis) very.



Etymology 1

From (etyl) . More at (l), (l).

Alternative forms

* keene, kene (archaic)


  • showing a quick and ardent willingness or responsiveness, enthusiastic, eager; interested, intense.
  • vehement; fierce; as, a keen appetite.
  • * (rfdate),
  • Of full keen will.
  • * (rfdate), Shakespeare
  • So keen and greedy to confound a man.
  • sharp; having a fine edge or point.
  • * (rfdate) :
  • That my keen knife see not the wound it makes.
  • acute of mind; sharp; penetrating; having or expressing mental acuteness.
  • * (rfdate),
  • To make our wits more keen .
  • * (rfdate),
  • Before the keen inquiry of her thought.
  • bitter; piercing; acrimonious; cutting; stinging; severe; as, keen satire or sarcasm.
  • * (rfdate)
  • Good father cardinal, cry thou amen to my keen curses.
  • piercing; penetrating; cutting; sharp; -- applied to cold, wind, etc,; as, a keen wind; the cold is very keen.
  • * (rfdate),
  • Breasts the keen air, and carols as he goes.
  • Enthusiastic
  • I'm keen to learn another language.
    I'm keen on learning another language.
    I'm keen on languages.
    I'm keen about learning languages.
    I'm keen for help.
    ''"Do you want to learn another language?" / "I'm keen ."
  • (US, informal, dated) Marvelous.
  • I just got this peachy keen new dress.
  • (UK) extremely low as to be competitive.
  • keen prices
  • (obsolete) brave, courageous; bold, audacious.
  • Usage notes
    * Keen is often used in the composition of words, most of which are of obvious signification; as, keen-edged, keen-eyed, keen-sighted, keen-witted, etc.
    * prompt; eager; ardent; sharp; acute; cutting; penetrating; biting; severe; sarcastic; satirical; piercing; shrewd. * See also
    Derived terms
    * keen-witted * keen as mustard * keen on * keenly * keenness


    (en verb)
  • (rare) To sharpen; to make cold.
  • * (rfdate), Thomson.
  • Cold winter keens the brightening flood.

    Etymology 2

    From (etyl) .


    (en noun)
  • A prolonged wail for a deceased person.
  • * '>citation
  • Verb

    (en verb)
  • To utter a keen.
  • * (rfdate) Stuart Howard-Jones (1904-1974), Hibernia.'' Collected in ''The New Oxford Book of English Light Verse, 1978.
  • Keen —meaning 'brisk'? Nay, here the Language warps:
    'Tis singing bawdy Ballads to a Corpse.
  • To utter with a loud wailing voice or wordless cry.
  • *
  • To mourn.
  • *
  • Anagrams

    * ----



    Alternative forms

    * pooty (nonstandard) * purdy (nonstandard) * (l) (dialectal) * (l), (l) (obsolete)


  • Cunning; clever, skilful.
  • * 1877 , George Hesekiel and Bayard Taylor, Bismarck his Authentic Biography , page 380:
  • In the end, however, it was a very pretty shot, right across the chasm; killed first fire, and the brute fell headlong into the brook [...].
  • Pleasant in sight or other senses; attractive, especially of women or children.
  • * {{quote-book, year=1963, author=(Margery Allingham), title=(The China Governess)
  • , chapter=17 citation , passage=The face which emerged was not reassuring. […]. He was not a mongol but there was a deficiency of a sort there, and it was not made more pretty by a latter-day hair cut which involved eccentrically long elf-locks and oiled black curls.}}
  • * 2010 , Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian , 4 Feb 2010:
  • To escape a violent beating from sailors to whom he has sold a non-functioning car, Jerry takes his stepfamily for a holiday in a trailer park miles away, where, miraculously, young Nick meets a very pretty young woman called Sheeni, played by Portia Doubleday.
  • Of objects or things: nice-looking, appealing.
  • * 2010 , Lia Leendertz, The Guardian , 13 Feb 2010:
  • 'Petit Posy' brassicas [...] are a cross between kale and brussels sprouts, and are really very pretty with a mild, sweet taste.
  • * 1962 , "New Life for the Liberals", Time , 28 Sep 1962:
  • Damned by the Socialists as "traitors to the working class," its leaders were decried by Tories as "faceless peddlers of politics with a pretty little trinket for every taste."
  • (dated) Moderately large; considerable.
  • *, I.2.4.vii:
  • they flung all the goods in the house out at the windows into the street, or into the sea, as they supposed; thus they continued mad a pretty season […].
  • *
  • , title= Mr. Pratt's Patients, chapter=1 , passage=A chap named Eleazir Kendrick and I had chummed in together the summer afore and built a fish-weir and shanty at Setuckit Point, down Orham way. For a spell we done pretty well. Then there came a reg'lar terror of a sou'wester same as you don't get one summer in a thousand, and blowed the shanty flat and ripped about half of the weir poles out of the sand.}}
  • * 2004 , "Because They're Worth it", Time , 26 Jan 04:
  • "What did you do to your hair?" The answer could be worth a pretty penny for L'Oreal.
  • (dated) Excellent, commendable, pleasing; fitting or proper (of actions, thoughts etc.).
  • * 1815 , (Jane Austen), Emma , Boston 1867, page 75:
  • Some people are surprised, I believe, that that the eldest was not [named after his father], but Isabella would have him named Henry, which I thought very pretty of her.
  • * 1919 , (Saki), ‘The Oversight’, The Toys of Peace :
  • ‘This new fashion of introducing the candidate's children into an election contest is a pretty one,’ said Mrs. Panstreppon; ‘it takes away something from the acerbity of party warfare, and it makes an interesting experience for the children to look back on in after years.’
  • * 1926 , (Ernest Hemingway), , page 251:
  • "Oh, Jake." Brett said, "we could have had such a damned good time together." Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me. "Yes", I said. "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
  • (ironic) Awkward, unpleasant.
  • * 1931 , "Done to a Turn", Time , 26 Jan 1931:
  • His sadistic self-torturings finally landed him in a pretty mess: still completely married, practically sure he was in love with Tillie, he made dishonorable proposals of marriage to two other women.


    * (ironic use: ) * 1995 , Les Standiford, Deal to die for , page 123: *: "[...] you can still see where the kid's face is swollen up from this talk: couple of black eyes, lip all busted up, nose over sideways," Driscoll shook his head again, "just a real pretty picture."


    * ugly

    Derived terms

    * just another pretty face * not a pretty sight * not just a pretty face * PDQ * prettify * prettiness * pretty as a picture * pretty boy * pretty-faced wallaby * Pretty Good Privacy * pretty much * pretty pass * pretty penny * pretty please * Pretty Polly * pretty-pretty * pretty-spoken * purdy * sitting pretty


  • Somewhat, fairly, quite; sometimes also (by meiosis) very.
  • * 1723 , Charles Walker, Memoirs of Sally Salisbury , V:
  • By the Sheets you have sent me to peruse, the Account you have given of her Birth and Parentage is pretty exact [...].
  • * 1859 , (Charles Darwin), The Origin of Species , I:
  • It seems pretty clear that organic beings must be exposed during several generations to the new conditions of life to cause any appreciable amount of variation [...].
  • * , chapter=1
  • , title= Mr. Pratt's Patients, chapter=1 , passage=I stumbled along through the young pines and huckleberry bushes. Pretty soon I struck into a sort of path that, I cal'lated, might lead to the road I was hunting for. It twisted and turned, and, the first thing I knew, made a sudden bend around a bunch of bayberry scrub and opened out into a big clear space like a lawn.}}
  • * 2002 , , The Great Nation , Penguin 2003, page 539:
  • The Revolutionary decade was a pretty challenging time for business.

    Usage notes

    * When particularly stressed, the adverb (term) serves almost to diminish the adjective or adverb that it modifies, by emphasizing that there are greater levels of intensity.

    Derived terms

    * pretty much * pretty well


  • Something that is pretty.
  • "We'll stop at the knife store a look at the sharp pretties .
  • * 1939 , Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf, ''
  • I'll get you, my pretty , and your little dog, too!


  • To make pretty; to beautify
  • * {{quote-book, 2007, Eric Knight, Lassie Come-Home citation
  • , passage=He sat on the hearth rug and began prettying the dog's coat.}}

    Derived terms

    * pretty up