sharp·​en | \ ˈshär-pən How to pronounce sharpen (audio) \
sharpened; sharpening\ ˈshärp-​niŋ How to pronounce sharpen (audio) , ˈshär-​pə-​ \

Definition of sharpen

transitive verb

: to make sharp or sharper especially : hone

intransitive verb

: to become sharp or sharper

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Other Words from sharpen

sharpener \ ˈshärp-​nər How to pronounce sharpen (audio) , ˈshär-​pə-​ \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for sharpen



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Examples of sharpen in a Sentence

Can you sharpen the image? The lecture sharpened my understanding of the topic. The outlines of the mountains sharpened as we got closer.
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Recent Examples on the Web There’s no need to buy specialty tools or sharpen your knives. Paul Stephen Paul’s Cooking Tips, San Antonio Express-News, 31 May 2021 Taper grind edge technology helps knives easily re-sharpen and provides optimum sharpness for effective and precise cutting. Jenna Sims, Southern Living, 21 May 2021 Heading into the next two years, when the 2023 mayoral race will sharpen into focus, Lightfoot already is armed with $1.6 million in her two political campaign funds. Gregory Pratt,, 20 May 2021 The data suggests that the U.S. should sharpen its focus on reducing emissions from U.S. domestic flights, which ICCT notes accounted for 15% of the total but aren’t covered under global agreements to cap aircraft emissions. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, 25 Mar. 2021 Izzo has tried to keep his players physically healthy during this late-season stretch by trying to sharpen them mentally with walk-throughs and film studies. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, 5 Mar. 2021 Scientists have a name for it when a person deficient in one of the five senses sees the others sharpen: cross-modal plasticity. Gordon Jones, New York Times, 11 May 2021 This can sharpen butter, fruit or meat knives easily. Chris Hachey, BGR, 22 Apr. 2021 The session is meant to sharpen governments’ focus on how to engage private capital to fund the low-carbon technologies needed to significantly curb emissions, an administration official told reporters this morning. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, 21 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sharpen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of sharpen

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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Time Traveler for sharpen

Time Traveler

The first known use of sharpen was in the 15th century

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Statistics for sharpen

Last Updated

11 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sharpen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for sharpen



English Language Learners Definition of sharpen

: to make (something) sharp or sharper
: to make (something) clearer or more distinct
: to become clearer or more distinct


sharp·​en | \ ˈshär-pən How to pronounce sharpen (audio) \
sharpened; sharpening

Kids Definition of sharpen

: to make or become sharp or sharper I sharpened the pencil's point.

Other Words from sharpen

sharpener noun


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