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  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈkwɪkən/
  • Rhymes: -ɪkən
    • (file)

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English quikenen, equivalent to quick +‎ -en. Cognate Danish kvikne (to quicken, revive), Swedish kvickna (to revive), Icelandic kvikna (to turn on, ignite).


quicken (third-person singular simple present quickens, present participle quickening, simple past and past participle quickened)

  1. (transitive, now literary) To give life to; to animate, make alive, revive. [from 14thc.]
    • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Luke XVII:
      Whosoever will goo about to save his lyfe, shall loose it: And whosoever shall loose his life, shall quycken it.
    • 1610, The Tempest, by Shakespeare, act 3 scene 1
      The mistress which I serve quickens what's dead, / And makes my labours pleasures
    • 1698, Robert South, Twelve Sermons upon Several Subjects and Occasions
      Like a fruitful garden without an hedge, that quickens the appetite to enjoy so tempting a prize.
  2. (intransitive, now literary) To come back to life, receive life. [from 14thc.]
  3. (intransitive) To take on a state of activity or vigour comparable to life; to be roused, excited. [from 15thc.]
    • 1910, ‘Saki’, "The Lost Sanjak", Reginald in Russia:
      The Chaplain's interest in the story visibly quickened.
  4. (intransitive) Of a pregnant woman: to first feel the movements of the foetus, or reach the stage of pregnancy at which this takes place; of a foetus: to begin to move. [from 16thc.]
    • 2013, Hilary Mantel, ‘Royal Bodies’, London Review of Books, 35.IV:
      Royal pregnancies were not announced in those days; the news generally crept out, and public anticipation was aroused only when the child quickened.
  5. (transitive) To make quicker; to hasten, speed up. [from 17thc.]
    • 2000, George RR Martin, A Storm of Swords, Bantam 2011, p.47:
      That day Arya quickened their pace, keeping the horses to a trot as long as she dared, and sometimes spurring to a gallop when she spied a flat stretch of field before them.
  6. (intransitive) To become faster. [from 17thc.]
    My heartbeat quickened when I heard him approach.
    • 1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter V, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326:
      Breezes blowing from beds of iris quickened her breath with their perfume; she saw the tufted lilacs sway in the wind, and the streamers of mauve-tinted wistaria swinging, all a-glisten with golden bees; she saw a crimson cardinal winging through the foliage, and amorous tanagers flashing like scarlet flames athwart the pines.
    • 1960 March, G. Freeman Allen, “Europe's most luxurious express - the "Settebello"”, in Trains Illustrated, page 144:
      On straights speed would quicken to what was apparently the maximum allowed on this stretch, 140 k.p.h., or 87.5 m.p.h., and then one would see the track disappearing ahead round a sharpish curve, for there are some of 35 and 40 chains' radius on this side of the summit as well.
  7. (shipbuilding) To shorten the radius of (a curve); to make (a curve) sharper.
    to quicken the sheer, that is, to make its curve more pronounced

Etymology 2[edit]

Apparently from quick, with uncertain final element.


quicken (plural quickens)

  1. (now chiefly Northern England) The European rowan, Sorbus aucuparia. [from 15th c.]
    • 1924, Ford Madox Ford, Some Do Not…, Penguin 2012 (Parade's End), p, 104:
      Miss Wannop moved off down the path: it was only suited for Indian file, and had on the left hand a ten-foot, untrimmed quicken hedge, the hawthorn blossoms just beginning to blacken […].
See also[edit]





  1. inflection of quick:
    1. strong genitive masculine/neuter singular
    2. weak/mixed genitive/dative all-gender singular
    3. strong/weak/mixed accusative masculine singular
    4. strong dative plural
    5. weak/mixed all-case plural

Old Dutch[edit]


From quic +‎ -en.



  1. to come to life


This verb needs an inflection-table template.


Further reading[edit]

  • kwikken”, in Oudnederlands Woordenboek, 2012