Origin of English word KEENING

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English Word


Edenic Word


Hebrew Word









To KEEN is wailing for the dead, from the Irish caoine (lament). The Indo-European “root”, kan (to sing),  is weaker than the Japanese equivalent below.  קינה QeeYNaH is also a "lament" (Jeremiah7:29) or stylized wailing for the dead. In IISamuel1:17 "David intoned this dirge over Saul and his son Jonathan." While Jeremiah9:9  places the קינה QeeYNaH in the context of "weeping and wailing," the reference to MiQOANiNOAT or "dirge-singers" in verse 17 assures us that the KEENING of Israelites (as of the Irish) is singing - not merely crying.

There is less intense grief in an NK term like ANaK[H]aH, groan. It informs less hysterical emotions like ANXIETY – see HANG.

For that KEEN which infers "sharpness" or "agreeable" there is HaK[H]ahM (smart  – see  'ACUMEN"),  סכין $aKeeYN (knife – see SAXON) and K[H]aNeeYT (javelin), or כן KaiN (so…yes — Genesis 1:7; like Chinese ken, agree, concent X385) and   חן K[H]aiN (charm, grace, favor – Genesis 30:27).  This non-vocal “keen” has no Indo-European “root,” but is traced to Anglo-Saxon cunnan, to be able.

K-N Wailing for loss is the opposite of GAIN; קנה QaNaH is possession  (see COIN.) Loss is compounded by the feeling that others still have what you lost.  Jealousy is  קנאה QiN’AH (Numbers 5:4). This is another reason why mourners are comforted by company, and why bereavement is less severe in wider disasters when many have lost loved ones.


While the Japanese reverse KN (naku means" to cry") and remove song from the sense, the Indo-European “root” kan (to sing) has lost the sense of elegy. Japanese (sosuru)-naki is to sob or weep.

QaNeH (throat, windpipe  – see  CANE), however, would justify a KN term of piping (singing) divorced from any connotation of a mournful dirge. Moreover, GHaNaH is to sing (Exodus32:18). Indo-European kan, related to both Hebrew KN terms, gives us ACCENT, CANT, CANTICLE, CANTILATE, CANTO, CANTOR, CANZONE, CHANT, CHARM (which seems to link up with KEEN above), ENCHANTED, INCANTATION, INCENTIVE, OSCINE and RECANT.

Kumakena is to lament, bewail or mourn loudly for the dead in Hawaiian. Chang is to sing in Chinese.

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