Definition of hone in English:



  • 1with object Sharpen (a blade)

    ‘he was carefully honing the curved blade’
    • ‘When the sharpener is pulled firmly across a double-sided blade, it hones both sides of the tool at once.’
    • ‘Men occasionally damaged axes, meaning a visit to a nearby grindstone to hone a nick from the edge.’
    • ‘He sat down on his bed and took out his sword, honing the edge on a small, flat rock.’
    • ‘In a small wooden case hanging from the cart, there are knife stones, sand paper and a special tool for honing the edge of new knives.’
    • ‘With this and copious amounts of water, the edges of blades on all sorts of tools or weapons were honed to sharpness.’
    sharpen, make sharper, make sharp, whet, strop, grind, file, put an edge on
    View synonyms
  • 2with object Refine or perfect (something) over a period of time.

    ‘a finely honed performance’
    ‘she has taken numerous workshops to hone her skills over the years’
    • ‘Over the next decade, even as America's combat forces shrank in size, the Pentagon continued to hone its capability to conduct modern warfare.’
    • ‘I've also honed my design skills, and maybe even sharpened up my writing skills.’
    • ‘These people were and are dedicated to keeping America free and practice very hard to hone that combat edge.’
    • ‘Mullane says the new dynamic was invaluable in helping the band hone their collective songwriting skills.’
    • ‘That allowed the company to focus exclusively on the corporate market and hone its message as a provider of premium services and products.’
    • ‘Six people win places there in order to hone and practise their skills, with a view to appearing in the televised final round, at which one will win the big competition.’
    • ‘They are usually already skilled at it when they enter the course, and their skills are honed to a sharp edge by their training.’
    • ‘Aides say mock debates help to hone his arguments and to keep his answers focused.’
    • ‘Camp can be the perfect place to develop problem-solving skills, hone life skills, and perfect communication and interaction skills.’
    • ‘He helped her hone her skills and taught her how to fight.’
    • ‘Education should free their imagination and hone their critical abilities.’
    • ‘If you're interested in honing your own reasoning skills - and being able to spot the lack thereof in others - this book is a good place to start.’
    • ‘She has been honing her craft for almost 20 years.’
    • ‘Men like to compete, and competition helps hone skills.’
    • ‘He seemed to think it would help hone Martin's bookkeeping skills more than just entering the numbers straight into the database.’
    • ‘They use it to hone their skills, tone their bodies, sharpen their minds; to feel how they want to feel.’
    • ‘With a view to providing an opportunity for the students to hone their skills, more colleges are entering into agreements with industries.’
    • ‘He wasn't the tallest or bulkiest, but he maintained an athletic air and a confidence in his own finely honed fighting abilities.’
    1. 2.1 Give greater strength or firmness to (the body or a part of the body)
      ‘she has been working hard to hone her physique’
      ‘abdominal strength training will hone your abs’
      • ‘Will lifting weights hone your heart muscles as much as your biceps?’
      • ‘Youthful, physically attractive bodies honed to perfection display the image we are expected to achieve.’
      • ‘The women will also be in the best physical shape of their lives, training like Olympians on daily runs and pumping iron to hone their muscles.’
      • ‘Unbelievably he is 38 years old, but possesses a super trim and supple body, honed by many hours of rigorous and demanding training sessions.’
      • ‘She also possesses a body honed to gymnastic perfection, making her look 10 years younger than her age.’
      • ‘Sharpe is at the gym five days a week honing and toning his body with free weights.’
      • ‘In a move guaranteed to have female viewers glued to their TV sets, channel bosses have commissioned an hour-long show about the football star's finely honed physique.’
      • ‘He promptly resigned his job in London and took himself off to an orchard in Sussex where, in a disused railway carriage, he worked on honing his body for the biggest test of his career.’
      • ‘Look at any men's magazine and you'll see trim, honed bodies, not an ounce of fat in sight.’
      • ‘Even at 48, his physique is as honed as a featherweight boxer's.’
      • ‘Like all bodybuilders, he relies heavily on nutrition to help hone his physique.’
      • ‘Jenny honed her physique, tackled the gymnastics, and turned pro the following summer at the USA Championships.’
      • ‘She has honed her muscles to a level which almost defies description.’
  • 3hone in on

    ‘the detectives honed in on the suspect’
    another way of saying "home in on" (see home)
    ‘I started to hone in on the problem’
    • ‘Instead of always honing in on the negative aspects, we should look at the positive ones.’
    • ‘And the media spotlight honed in on the sexy new power couple.’
    • ‘When the skies were devoid of light, the German bomber planes honed in on Birmingham and nearby Coventry.’
    • ‘This is part of his broader strategy in the final 18 days to really hone in on domestic issues.’
    • ‘A Hercules aircraft honed in on the boat's locator beacon and an oil tanker eventually launched a lifeboat to rescue the man.’
    • ‘Just like my mother can hone in on my weak points with GPS accuracy, teenagers can humiliate me with a muttered monosyllable.’
    • ‘We honed in on brands that resonated well with our customers.’
    • ‘He is always honing in on the details.’
    • ‘We have a huge selection and people just honed in on certain ones.’
    • ‘Finally, with large sites, include an internal search engine so readers can quickly hone in on what they're after.’
    • ‘Apart from concentrating on domestic coins, collectors may also hone in on various themes.’
    • ‘Moreover, researchers are honing in on lifestyle choices that may help protect the brain in the first place.’
    • ‘He's made points that are highly questionable instead of honing in on the real issue.’


  • A whetstone, especially one used to sharpen razors.

    • ‘The stone often arrived rough, from where it went to another site to be finished into the actual hone.’
    • ‘This hone produces a razor-sharp edge.’
    • ‘I like to start with a soft stone, such as the stick-like hones sometimes used by watchmakers.’
    • ‘By the way, a diamond hone is the ideal tool for sharpening in camp.’


See home


Middle English: from Old English hān ‘stone’, of Germanic origin; related to Old Norse hein.