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

Synonyms & Antonyms for sharpen


edge, grind, hone, stone, 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

Now Woods' is sharpening her design chops with another collaboration with Boohoo. Channing Hargrove,, "Soon You'll Be Able To Shop Another Jordyn Woods x Boohoo Collab," 25 June 2019 Trying to define it as one thing, assign it to one person, or sharpen it to a point, well, that just isn’t the point at all. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "An Exclusive First Look at the Met’s “Camp: Notes on Fashion” Catalog," 3 Apr. 2019 By stepping away, Patterson sharpened his focus on a variety of industry issues, including racial equity in the workplace, which is arguably his most prominent cause. Justin Phillips, San Francisco Chronicle, "Coi celebrates 12-year anniversary with star-studded alumni dinners," 16 May 2018 Our memory, suddenly sharpened, examines, gnaws on kind words, unsaid, promised walks never taken. Kevin Cullen,, "He lived like every day might be his last, and then one day it was," 2 Apr. 2018 In 2012, Joe and his collaborators sharpened this problem, finding that either general relativity, or quantum mechanics itself, must break down. Quanta Magazine, "Physicists Mourn Joe Polchinski, Developer of Deep Ideas and Paradoxes," 20 Feb. 2018 Schultz, also a Caps’ first-rounder who was picked up in 2004, sharpened his game with Fehr at Washington’s AHL affiliate in Hershey. Bryce Miller,, "Goal-scoring, book-authoring NHL vet Eric Fehr skates toward second chance with Gulls," 1 Feb. 2018 On his rise to No. 1 in the world, Johnson’s diligent work to sharpen his wedge game is well-documented. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Woodland’s U.S. Open win the result of his commitment to improve," 18 June 2019 Casse didn’t work him between the Preakness and Belmont believing his form didn’t need sharpening. John Cherwa,, "Belmont Stakes 2019 preview: A horse-by-horse look at the field," 8 June 2019

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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Statistics for sharpen

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

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 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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More from Merriam-Webster on sharpen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sharpen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sharpen

Spanish Central: Translation of sharpen

Nglish: Translation of sharpen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sharpen for Arabic Speakers

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).


to complain fretfully

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