[shahr-puh n]

verb (used with or without object)

to make or become sharp or sharper.

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for sharpened

hone, whet, taper, grind, stroke, edge, file, acuminate, dress, strop, sharp

Examples from the Web for sharpened

Contemporary Examples of sharpened

Historical Examples of sharpened

  • 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



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper