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

transitive verb

: to make sharp or sharper
especially : hone

intransitive verb

: to become sharp or sharper
ˈshärp-nər How to pronounce sharpen (audio)

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.
Recent Examples on the Web But, in turn, there’s also a lot that older professionals can learn from their younger colleagues to sharpen their own toolkit. Janet Markoff, Fortune, 18 May 2024 But even for news junkies, Holzer delivers information that sharpens and deepens understanding, surely a boon to all. Nancy Princenthal, New York Times, 16 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for sharpen 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sharpen.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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

Dictionary Entries Near sharpen

Cite this Entry

“Sharpen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


sharp·​en ˈshär-pən How to pronounce sharpen (audio)
sharpened; sharpening ˈshärp-(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce sharpen (audio)
: to make or become sharp or sharper
sharpen a pencil
a better lens sharpened the image
pain that suddenly sharpened
: improve
sharpen one's skills
sharpener noun

More from Merriam-Webster on sharpen

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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