adjective, sharp·er, sharp·est.
- (of a tone) raised a chromatic half step in pitch: F sharp.
- above an intended pitch, as a note; too high (opposed to flat1def 26b).
verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
- a tone one chromatic half step above a given tone.
- (in musical notation) the symbol ♯ indicating this.
- sharon fruit,
- sharon, ariel,
- sharp as a tack,
- sharp practice,
- sharp, william,
Origin of sharp
- (immediately postpositive) denoting a note that has been raised in pitch by one chromatic semitoneB sharp
- (of an instrument, voice, etc) out of tune by being or tending to be too high in pitchCompare flat 1 (def. 23)
- too smart
- higher than a standard pitch
- out of tune by being or tending to be too high in pitchshe sings sharp Compare flat 1 (def. 29)
- an accidental that raises the pitch of the following note by one chromatic semitoneUsual symbol: ♯
- a note affected by this accidentalCompare flat 1 (def. 35)
Word Origin for sharp
Old English scearp "having a cutting edge; pointed; intellectually acute, active, shrewd; keen (of senses); severe; biting, bitter (of tastes)," from Proto-Germanic *skarpaz, literally "cutting" (cf. Old Saxon scarp, Old Norse skarpr, Old Frisian skerp, Dutch scherp, German scharf "sharp"), from PIE *(s)ker- (1) "to cut" (cf. Lettish skarbs "sharp," Middle Irish cerb "cutting;" see shear).
The figurative meaning "acute or penetrating in intellect or perception" was in Old English; hence "keenly alive to one's own interests, quick to take advantage" (1690s). Of words or talk, "cutting, sarcastic," from early 13c. Meaning "distinct in contour" is from 1670s. The adverbial meaning "abruptly" is from 1836; that of "promptly" is first attested 1840. The musical meaning "half step above (a given tone)" is from 1570s. Meaning "stylish" is from 1944, hepster slang, from earlier general slang sense of "excellent" (1940). Phrase sharp as a tack first recorded 1912 (sharp as a needle has been around since Old English). Sharp-shinned attested from 1704 of persons, 1813 of hawks.
"a cheat at games," 1797, short for sharper (1680s) in this sense. Meaning "expert, connoisseur" is attested from 1840, and likely is from sharp (adj.). Music sense is from 1570s. The noun was used 14c. as "a sharp weapon, edge of a sword."
In addition to the idioms beginning with sharp
- sharp as a tack
- sharp practice
- keep an eye (a sharp lookout) for
- look sharp