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



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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 This experience also sharpened her negotiation skills. Rebecca Maitland, Houston Chronicle, "Realtor of the Week — Ruedas: The time to purchase a home is right now," 23 May 2020 The virus, which seemed able to reach anyone, sharpened a sense of crisis among ordinary Iranians. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, "The Twilight of the Iranian Revolution," 18 May 2020 This transit sharpens our wit, encouraging us to explore new subjects to sate our curiosities. Venus Australis,, "Your Horoscope This Week," 17 May 2020 The Trump administration sharpened its focus on China as a target of blame for the pandemic Thursday. Cassidy Morrison, Washington Examiner, "Trump sharpens focus on China as target for blame," 1 May 2020 Crab cakes are served as crisp, five-ounce patties sharpened with mustard and lemon juice. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, "Uncertain times call for comfort food. These restaurants come to the rescue.," 24 Apr. 2020 Also, to have your kitchen ready beforehand by sharpening knives, gathering utensils and making sure your oven is working. Alex Darus, cleveland, "What to make mom for Mother’s Day? Michael Symon, Matt Fish and other Northeast Ohio chefs offer tips," 4 May 2020 Quantum thermodynamicists in London, Cologne, and elsewhere have extended and sharpened this research. Nicole Yunger Halpern, Scientific American, "Quantum Steampunk: 19th-Century Science Meets Technology of Today," 18 Apr. 2020 This is a ring of opaque material, usually aluminum, that acts as an image sharpening device. Ron Spomer, Outdoor Life, "The Truth About Riflescope Brightness (And How to Pick the Best Hunting Scope for Low Light)," 7 Apr. 2020

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

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sharpen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for sharpen


How to pronounce sharpen (audio)

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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sharpen

Spanish Central: Translation of sharpen

Nglish: Translation of sharpen for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sharpen for Arabic Speakers

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