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 While Jageler was sharpening his game in Rhode Island, the pieces were moving into place elsewhere: The Expos moved to Washington in 2005 and became the Nationals, veteran Charlie Slowes became the radio voice. Dom Amore,, "Dom Amore: Windsor’s Dave Jageler helped provide the soundtrack for Nationals’ storybook championship," 4 Nov. 2019 Garrett helps Connor sharpen his powers in order to execute a series of crimes on behalf of Sutcliffe, while a militarized police unit, led by Agent Park (Sung Kang) and Agent Davis (Aaron Abrams), hunts them down. Clark Collis,, "Stephen and Robbie Amell stay in the superpower zone for Code 8 trailer," 30 Oct. 2019 Wei’s comments Monday come amid sharpening tensions between China and the U.S. over a range of economic and security issues, from trade and technology transfer to Hong Kong and the South China Sea. San Diego Union-Tribune, "China issues stinging rebuke of US at Beijing defense forum," 21 Oct. 2019 Indeed, as Trump and others in the U.S. sharpened their criticism of American immigration policies, Trudeau and Canadians deepened their commitment to relatively open borders, especially as regards migrants from Syria. David Shribman, Los Angeles Times, "Canada’s Justin Trudeau says he’s evolved since wearing brownface. Will voters accept that?," 21 Sep. 2019 The longer a tenant stays put, the bigger the disparity between the market rent and his payments, sharpening the incentive not to move. The Economist, "Rent control will make housing shortages worse," 19 Sep. 2019 Our ideas sharpened as Drew Days and Taylor Branch helped us see the subtle nuances at work during the Civil Rights Movement. Lonnie G. Bunch Iii, Smithsonian, "How Lonnie Bunch Built a Museum Dream Team," 19 Sep. 2019 Unfortunately, your next homework assignment will be to figure out a way to talk your squirrels into changing to some other means of sharpening their teeth. Neil Sperry,, "Keep kids safe from poisonous plants: teach them not to graze," 19 Sep. 2019 Tigers sharpening teeth on defense Cleveland Heights coach Mac Stephens suspected before the season this could be his best defense in five years at the school. Matt Goul,, "Riverside meets Lima halfway in classy move: HS football quick hits," 16 Sep. 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

12 Nov 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sharpen

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).


to engage in dissolute behavior

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