"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[shahr-puh n] /ˈʃɑr pən/
verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
to make or become sharp or sharper.
Origin of sharpen
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English; see sharp, -en1
Related forms
sharpener, noun
presharpen, verb (used with object)
resharpen, verb
unsharpened, adjective
unsharpening, adjective
well-sharpened, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for sharpen
  • In each case a chimpanzee modified a branch by breaking off one or two ends and, frequently, using its teeth to sharpen the stick.
  • Incorporate any feedback you might have received and take a moment to sharpen the work overall, if you can.
  • The point of these chemicals is to sharpen the spotlight, to keep us fixated on the task at hand.
  • But they sharpen only a small portion of the telescope's field of view.
  • He had his own theory on this subject, and arguing it with peers only served to sharpen his thinking, not stop it.
  • The contrast with better-run emerging economies will sharpen.
  • Western complaints about the piracy of intellectual property could sharpen rows with developing countries.
  • Being always at close quarters with his readers, a journalist must shorten and sharpen his sentences, or he is doomed.
  • Allow me to sharpen up a couple of points that have been made so far.
  • We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity.
British Dictionary definitions for sharpen


to make or become sharp or sharper
(music) to raise the pitch of (a note), esp by one chromatic semitone Usual US and Canadian word sharp
Derived Forms
sharpener, 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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for sharpen

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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for sharpen

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for sharpen

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with sharpen

Nearby words for sharpen