Keen

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Benvolio
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Keen

Post by Benvolio »

So there's this video game series called Commander Keen that we've all played forever and participate in a forum about and write the word "Keen" thousands of times. But do we know what this word means and why Tom is likely to have selected it? I've always wondered a bit about this. Let's look at some definitions.
wiktionary wrote: keen (comparative keener or more keen, superlative keenest or most keen)

1. (chiefly Commonwealth of Nations) Often with a prepositional phrase, or with to and an infinitive: showing a quick and ardent responsiveness or willingness; eager, enthusiastic, interested. quotations
I’m keen on computers.
I’m keen on you. ― I like you.
She’s keen to learn another language.
“Do you want to go on holiday with me?”   “Yes, I’m keen.”
2. Fierce, intense, vehement. quotations
This boy has a keen appetite.
Having a fine edge or point; sharp. quotations
3. Acute of mind, having or expressing mental acuteness; penetrating, sharp. quotations
4. Acrimonious, bitter, piercing. quotations
keen satire or sarcasm
5. Of cold, wind, etc.: cutting, penetrating, piercing, sharp. quotations
a keen wind
the cold is very keen
6. (Britain) Of prices, extremely low as to be competitive.
7. (US, informal, dated) Marvelous. quotations
I just got this peachy keen new dress.
8. (obsolete) Brave, courageous; audacious, bold.
Looking at these definitions, these pretty much match my understanding of the word "keen" in descending order. Definition 1 by far would closest match the usage of the word that I would have always expected.

However, reflecting on our favourite character, it seems that definitions 7 and 8 are what Tom had in mind. I've never seen the word "keen" used in such a context apart from in the Keen games. Both these definitions - as per wiktionary - are labeled dated or obsolete. So therefore I must ask the question: are these usages of the word "keen" perhaps ones that would have been quite normal in, say, the 70s or 80s? Is it an American thing, as definition 7 would suggest? Do these definitions come more naturally to any of us, for instance members of the community who might be aged 40 or above? Has anyone ever contemplated this before?

Also, as a side question, is definition 1 less familiar to Americans - I ask this seeing as Wiktionary denotes that definition as "chiefly Commonwealth of Nations"? The United States is, of course, not in the Commonwealth. (Ireland where I'm from is also not in the Commonwealth however this departure from British influence was of course a far more recent event than that of the US). To me, definition 1 is the main definition of the word "keen".
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Nospike
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Re: Keen

Post by Nospike »

I think it's supposed to mean something like number 3 - he's a young boy with a keen mind, a huge IQ of 314 and an inventor's spirit.
He's also brave, but that seems like more of a consequence of his intelligence making him a good judge of potentially dangerous situations, and strategy skills (this one likely comes from Paddle War).
Also, it's an alliteration.
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StupidBunny
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Re: Keen

Post by StupidBunny »

Because Tom needed something that was phonetically alliterative and "Commander Cool" would've been too boring and uncreative

I always took it the way Nospike said: "keen" as a combination of sharp, enthusiastic, intense, that kind of thing.

Interesting aside: way way back when I made Comrade Keen, the translation site which I used (and which still exists virtually unmodified from 2005) translated "keen" as "острый", a word which I would learn years later more commonly means "spicy". And Commander Spicy would be a pretty exciting game no? :evil
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Quillax
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Re: Keen

Post by Quillax »

I always thought "keen" meant definitions 7 and 1. I mean, the High Scores screens in the Galaxy games have "The Keenest", so definition 7 works well in that context. I guess that definition was more popular in the 70s or 80s, or perhaps even the 90s. Interestingly, I never thought of "Commander Keen" as an alliteration, but now that Nospike mentioned it, I can see it!
StupidBunny wrote: Wed Nov 10, 2021 14:00 Interesting aside: way way back when I made Comrade Keen, the translation site which I used (and which still exists virtually unmodified from 2005) translated "keen" as "острый", a word which I would learn years later more commonly means "spicy". And Commander Spicy would be a pretty exciting game no? :evil
Haha, Commander Spicy! :lol For some reason, the site won't load for me.
Quillax Ship - Where you can download all of my cool, keen mods and super-marvelous fangames!
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Nospike
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Re: Keen

Post by Nospike »

StupidBunny wrote: Wed Nov 10, 2021 14:00 Interesting aside: way way back when I made Comrade Keen, the translation site which I used (and which still exists virtually unmodified from 2005) translated "keen" as "острый", a word which I would learn years later more commonly means "spicy". And Commander Spicy would be a pretty exciting game no? :evil
I didn't notice this bit when I first read your post, but that's a pretty funny one. :lol That word is a direct translation of "keen" and has two meanings, "sharp/pointy" (which is Keen's "keen") and "spicy."
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