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[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.
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Examples from the Web for sharpened
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He sharpened his blade for the coming duel with Anne, whom Monsignor had warned, without doubt.

    The Art of Disappearing John Talbot Smith
  • Andy heard, for his ears were sharpened: "I thought for a minute—But it does look like him!"

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • He was staring hard at Baumberger, and his whole face had sharpened till it had the cold, unyielding look of an Indian.

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

    The Black Bag Louis Joseph Vance
  • He was a wise man, he said, and though God had deprived him of sight, He had sharpened his intellect.

    Fire and Sword in the Sudan Rudolf C. Slatin
British Dictionary definitions for sharpened


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
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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
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