AskDefine | Define fen

Dictionary Definition



1 100 fen equal 1 yuan
2 low-lying wet land with grassy vegetation; usually is a transition zone between land and water; "thousands of acres of marshland"; "the fens of eastern England" [syn: marsh, marshland, fenland]

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1




  1. A type of wetland fed by ground water and runoff, containing peat below the waterline.

Etymology 2

A false plural of fan


fen p (singular: fan)
  1. A plural form of fan used by enthusiasts of science fiction, fantasy, and anime, partly from whimsy and partly to distinguish themselves from fans of sport, etc. (by analogy with men as the plural of man).






  1. measure word (for copies of newspapers/etc.) share; portion
    ta you yi fen hao de gongzuo. "She/he has a good job."
    zhe fen baozhi you hen duo guanggao. "This newspaper has a lot of advertisement."
    zhe fen dinghuodan xuyao dedao pizhun. "I need to get an approval on this purchase order."

Pinyin syllable

  1. A transliteration of any of a number of Chinese characters properly represented as having one of four tones, fēn, fén, fěn, or fèn.

Usage notes

English transcriptions of Chinese speech often fail to distinguish between the critical tonal differences employed in the Chinese language, using words such as this one without the appropriate indication of tone.





Extensive Definition

A fen is a type of wetland fed by surface and/or groundwater. Fens are characterized by their water chemistry, which is neutral or alkaline. Fens are different from bogs, which are acidic, fed primarily by rainwater (ombrotrophic) and often dominated by Sphagnum mosses.


The word "fen" is derived from Old English fenn and is considered to have proto-Germanic origins, since it has cognates in Gothic (fani), Old Frisian (fenne), Dutch (veen) and German (Fenn(e), Venn, Vehn, Feen).

Fen flora

Fen is a phase in the development of natural succession from open lake, through reedbed, fen and carr, to woodland, or as the peat develops and its surface rises, to bog.
Carr is the northern European equivalent of the wooded swamp of the south-eastern United States. It is a fen overgrown with generally small trees of species such as willow (Salix spp.) or alder (Alnus spp.). A list of species found in a fen therefore covers a range from those remaining from the earlier stage in the successional development to the pioneers of the succeeding stage.
Fen also merges into freshwater marsh, when it develops more in the direction of grassland. This is most likely to occur where the tree species of carr are systematically removed by man for the development of pasture (often together with drainage), or by browsing wild animals, including beavers.
The water in fens is usually from groundwater or flowing sources (minerotrophic) with a fairly high pH (base-rich, neutral to alkaline). Where the water is from rainwater or other sources with a lower pH (more acidic), fen is replaced by vegetation dominated by Sphagnum mosses, known as bog.
Where streams of base-rich water run through bog, these are often lined by strips of fen, separating "islands" of rain-fed bog.

List of fen flora species

The following is a list of plant species to be found in a north European fen with some attempt to distinguish between reed bed relicts and the carr pioneers. However, nature does not come in neat compartments so that for example, the odd stalk of common reed will be found in carr.

In pools

In typical fen

In fen carr

See also


Rose, F. Grasses, Sedges, Rushes and Ferns of the British Isles and north-western Europe (1989) ISBN 0-670-80688-9
fen in German: Niedermoor
fen in Dutch: Laagveen
fen in Polish: Torfowisko niskie
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