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 But save for a few clever moments that illustrate how Pennywise has sharpened his hunting skills during his 27-year hibernation, the rules of the world and of his powers go undefined. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Overlong ‘It Chapter Two’ confronts scarier evils than Pennywise the clown," 5 Sep. 2019 Cathay’s ordeal has sharpened the conflicting pressures on multinationals in Hong Kong with business in the mainland: pleasing both authoritarian China and their democracy-loving staff in Hong Kong. The Economist, "Cathay Pacific’s fate rattles multinationals in Hong Kong," 22 Aug. 2019 This beginner puzzle is an an easy way to prepare your pup for more challenging games, sharpening his or her mental skills. Maddie Hiatt, House Beautiful, "You've Got to See This Dog Puzzle in Action," 2 Aug. 2019 But science keeps progressing, and our picture of the Russian-doll cosmos has sharpened dramatically in the past four decades. Quanta Magazine, "From the Edge of the Universe to the Inside of a Proton," 16 Oct. 2017 In addition to sharpening her focus on policies and plans including health care, climate change, and criminal justice reform, Cross believes that Harris should tell more of her background as a child of Jamaican and Indian immigrants. Fortune, "Will the Third Democratic Debate Give Kamala Harris Renewed Momentum?," 12 Sep. 2019 Prosecution witnesses said Masters took part in the planning, sharpened the knife and gave it to Johnson. Bob Egelko,, "Death penalty upheld in 1985 slaying of San Quentin guard, despite recantation," 14 Aug. 2019 The 20 Democrats vying for the presidency have been prepping for their second bout by fine-tuning their messaging, sharpening their attacks and retooling their policy proposals. Petra Cahill, NBC News, "#GilroyStrong, Olympic Committee 'failed' athletes & Democrats debate: The Morning Rundown," 30 July 2019 The inquiry into Amazon’s practices shows how European authorities have sharpened their focus on companies that provide platforms that other businesses depend on to reach customers. Adam Satariano,, "Amazon faces EU inquiry over data from independent sellers," 17 July 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

29 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for sharpen

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

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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

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).


relating to purpose especially in nature

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