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[smahr-tn] /ˈsmɑr tn/
verb (used with object)
to make more trim or spruce; improve in appearance (usually followed by up):
Try to smarten up your outfit.
to make brisker, as a pace.
to sharpen the judgment or broaden the experience of; educate (usually followed by up):
Someone has to smarten him up about dealing with people.
Verb phrases
smarten up,
  1. to groom oneself:
    to smarten up before dinner.
  2. to become aware of one's mistakes, shortcomings, etc., and make efforts to correct them:
    If you don't smarten up, you're going to be out of a job.
Origin of smarten
First recorded in 1805-15; smart + -en1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for smarten
Historical Examples
  • At the tavern, where we went to smarten up and to eat, we chanced upon Gregory.

    The Cavalier George Washington Cable
  • Antiquity has a charm of its own, and to smarten it up would only damage it.

    A Tramp Abroad, Complete Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • He's one of the sons, and he'd smarten 'em up if he had his way.

    The Eldest Son Archibald Marshall
  • "Your 'Enery will 'ave to smarten 'isself up a bit fer their dear sakes," I ses.

  • This afternoon ammunition drill, &c., to smarten the men up.

    Letters from France Isaac Alexander Mack
  • I had done my best to smarten up my uniform, and make all my accoutrements bright and glistening.

  • That did not take her half-an-hour, but when she came down the woman had done her best to smarten up her room.

    Mother Meg Catharine Shaw
  • When they had gone the poor Simpleton began to tease his mother to smarten him up and let him start off.

    The Yellow Fairy Book Leonora Blanche Alleyne Lang
  • The girls went to ride with him, and naturally began to smarten their dress and accents and to change their estimates.

    'Charge It' Irving Bacheller
  • The next day we had to smarten up and get ready for the Brigadier-General, who was going to inspect us.

    Into the Jaws of Death

    Jack O'Brien
British Dictionary definitions for smarten


verb (usually foll by up)
(intransitive) to make oneself neater
(transitive) to make quicker or livelier
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for smarten

"to make smart, to spruce up, to improve appearance," 1786, from smart (adj.) in its sense of "spruce, trim" + -en (1). Related: Smartened; smartening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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