sharp·en | \ˈshär-pən \
sharpened; sharpening\ˈshärp-niŋ, 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, ˈshär-pə- \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for sharpen


edge, grind, hone, strop, whet


blunt, dull

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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

Ellington said Monday's game should sharpen the Heat's focus after Friday's 122-98 humiliation at Madison Square Garden. Ira Winderman,, "Heat comfortable with their sixth sense about the playoffs," 7 Apr. 2018 Those looking to sharpen their skills with Microsoft Excel can attend a workshop at General Assembly. Margeaux Sippell,, "Business agenda," 26 June 2018 Whereas the Democratic nominee focused on his temperament for much of the general election, party campaigners are now desperate to sharpen that blunt argument as much as possible, and as early as possible before 2020. Gabriel Debenedetti, Daily Intelligencer, "How Should Democrats Tackle Trump in the Midterms? Focus on His Narcissism," 27 June 2018 Services such as knife sharpening and bicycle repair also are available. David Rattigan,, "Cape Ann Farmers Market opens for season," 8 June 2018 One of its edges has been subtly sharpened into a cutting tool by a former resident of the area, perhaps 1,000 years ago. Zak Podmore, Outside Online, "The Native Americans Who Call the Grand Canyon Home," 24 May 2018 Recent developments have sharpened our risk outlook. Simon Kennedy,, "Wall Street Economists See Global Growth Cresting Not Collapsing," 15 Apr. 2018 That does come at a price, though, as Huawei isn’t shy about throwing in extra layers of sharpening and noise-reducing blur to make an image pop more. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Huawei’s P20 Pro takes even better night pictures than the Pixel 2 XL," 30 Mar. 2018 The child felt a pain just under the heart, and the woman’s face sharpened and came clear. Lauren Groff, The New Yorker, "Under the Wave," 9 July 2017

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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Phrases Related to sharpen

pencil sharpener

sharpen up

Statistics for sharpen

Last Updated

1 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sharpen

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

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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 \
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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Comments on sharpen

What made you want to look up sharpen? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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