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 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, "Tamika Catchings Is Taking Her ‘Superpower’ to the Hall of Fame," 11 May 2021 This can sharpen butter, fruit or meat knives easily. Chris Hachey, BGR, "Best Sharpening Rod for Knives," 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, "Daily on Energy, Sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute: Biden focused on enlisting private capital in climate effort," 21 Apr. 2021 The current crises serve to sharpen focus on these institutions’ weakest spots of economics and equity. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Commentary: After a year without museums, what’s next?," 14 Mar. 2021 Those insights have helped WW sharpen their workshop design focus to support deeper connections and relationship-building. Forbes, "The Pandemic Scrambled Health And Wellness Routines: Here’s How WW Adjusted And Found Success," 4 Mar. 2021 Antitrust scrutiny of the world’s largest online retailer is likely to sharpen in the coming years. al, "Amazon’s new CEO Andy Jassy in ‘hot seat’ as Alabama workers consider union," 7 Feb. 2021 Karl Benson — co-owner of Cooks at Crocus Hill locations in Stillwater, North Loop in Minneapolis and on Grand Avenue in St. Paul — said the pandemic gave him the opportunity to sharpen his focus. John Ewoldt, Star Tribune, "'Buy local or bye local': Shopper support was holiday gift for small Minnesota retailers," 30 Jan. 2021 The experiences of the past year helped sharpen their focus heading into 2021. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "How ex-Michigan State basketball star Ray Weathers, wife Angela, are developing leaders," 5 Jan. 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

18 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sharpen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 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

Comments on sharpen

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