Definition of sharpen in US English:



  • 1Make or become sharp.

    with object ‘she sharpened her pencil’
    no object ‘her tone sharpened to exasperation’
    • ‘Hopefully it will have given them a taste for the game - it's great because it's the sort of game you can play until you're 100, and it sharpens your wits.’
    • ‘Evolution sharpens and refines their ability to lie about themselves.’
    • ‘What he did do was provide Hatton with a granite block on which to sharpen his skills and hone his experience.’
    • ‘So each one of these abilities is learned over the course of life and articulated, refined and sharpened as you go up the ladder.’
    • ‘She notes his hypocrisy, and he sharpens his tone.’
    • ‘At this very moment, exam markers are sharpening their red pencils to ring such sloppiness.’
    • ‘If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it.’
    • ‘It's never too early to start sharpening the insults and perfecting the ad hominem attacks.’
    • ‘It sharpens your thinking and improves your development.’
    • ‘Does he pay attention or is he the one always out at the front of the class sharpening his pencil?’
    • ‘So sharpen your proverbial pencils and get scribbling, because it's your reviews that keep me writing.’
    • ‘He sharpens them and uses them as deadly weapons.’
    • ‘This is where the bile and the agony and the rage of rock and roll was sharpened and honed.’
    • ‘There's something about this time of year that somehow sharpens the sense of sadness that seems part and parcel of the bitter-sweet experience of Christmas time.’
    • ‘This broad and undulating ridge gradually narrows and eventually sharpens to a knife edge just below the rocky summit slopes.’
    • ‘Have they been sharpening their pencils and drawing rectangles to take the average size car?’
    • ‘From the moment their grans pop the first illicit chocolate button in their drooling mouths, children are hooked, and parental censure only sharpens their appetite.’
    • ‘If you're still with me, be prepared to sharpen both your pencils and your little gray cells.’
    • ‘I have a feeling he's sharpening his pencil and pulling out the classified ads right about now.’
    • ‘And I think when the economic message sharpens on health care, the economy, job creation, you'll see the race tighten.’
    make sharp, make sharper, hone, whet, strop, grind, file
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    1. 1.1 Improve or cause to improve.
      no object ‘they must sharpen up or risk losing half their business’
      with object ‘students will sharpen up their reading skills’
      • ‘We work well together and the partnership is sharpening up all the time.’
      • ‘He ruffled some feathers by suggesting ‘if blogging is to go mainstream, bloggers will have to sharpen their act up considerably’.’
      • ‘And I must edit some old writings and sharpen them up a bit and work on some new writings.’
      • ‘The game isn't due out until the first quarter of 2006 so we'll see if things have been sharpened up by then.’
      • ‘This is really a way of sharpening up the act a bit.’
      • ‘Whether you're in high school now or you've been out for years, this site will have you sharpening up your revenge skills.’
      • ‘On this day he was shaking of the winter blues and sharpening up his skills as the swing as the new season approaches.’
      • ‘We know our areas of weakness and we will have to sharpen them up,’ he added.’
      • ‘Baxter admitted he was not pleased with the previous day's training, where too many players showed their poor finishing during a lengthy session devoted to shooting practice, in which he tried to sharpen matters up in front of goal.’
      • ‘The acting was all of the highest standard, the script was well written and, while the removal of twenty minutes might have sharpened it up a bit, basically it was certainly professional and original stuff.’
      • ‘The company claims the handling has been sharpened up considerably.’
      • ‘The exchange of dark-squared Bishops would have left Black with a very passive position, so he decides to sharpen things up a bit.’
      • ‘A few of the banks are sharpening up their acts too.’
      • ‘Tell him that you are sharpening up your act by keeping your shops and guest houses clean and opening the cafe even when a coach party arrives 10 minutes after closing time.’
      • ‘I've also honed my design skills, and maybe even sharpened up my writing skills.’
      • ‘They're both fine talented footballers and while their match fitness might need a bit of sharpening up, it's great to have them back on the panel.’
      • ‘His adaptation retains the honesty and lyricism of the book but sharpens it up into a riveting confessional stream of crackling, dinner conversation-sharp dialogue.’
      • ‘If you think that the exterior lines have been sharpened up, just wait until you drop into the cabin.’
      • ‘Yes, my neurological examination technique had lacked precision, and I made a note to sharpen it up.’
      • ‘The job may involve a lot of travelling, and the sharpening up of skills that have become dull in the 6 years I've spent here.’
      improve, brush up, polish up, better, enhance
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