• synonyms


[shahr-puh n]
verb (used with or without object)
  1. to make or become sharp or sharper.
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Origin of sharpen

late Middle English word dating back to 1400–50; see origin at sharp, -en1
Related formssharp·en·er, nounpre·sharp·en, verb (used with object)re·sharp·en, verbun·sharp·ened, adjectiveun·sharp·en·ing, adjectivewell-sharp·ened, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for sharpened

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • One of them gave me his spear, which was very blunt, and I sharpened it for him.

  • Andy heard, for his ears were sharpened: "I thought for a minute—But it does look like him!"

  • In age, one's sight is sharpened—to see Romance in another's life, at least.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • These piles were stems, or trunks of trees, sharpened with stone or bronze tools.

    English Villages

    P. H. Ditchfield

  • The humiliation of it ate into his soul; and the tooth was sharpened by his own misdeeds.

British Dictionary definitions for sharpened


  1. to make or become sharp or sharper
  2. music to raise the pitch of (a note), esp by one chromatic semitoneUsual US and Canadian word: sharp
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Derived Formssharpener, noun
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

Word Origin and History for sharpened



1520s, "bring to an edge or point," from sharp (adj.) + -en (1). Related: Sharpened; sharpening. Old English verb scearpian meant "to score, scarify;" cf. scearpung "scarifying." To sharpen (one's) pencil "prepare to get to work" is from 1957, American English.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper