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[smahr-tn] /ˈsmɑr tn/
verb (used with object)
to make more trim or spruce; improve in appearance (usually followed by up):
Try to smarten up your outfit.
to make brisker, as a pace.
to sharpen the judgment or broaden the experience of; educate (usually followed by up):
Someone has to smarten him up about dealing with people.
Verb phrases
smarten up,
  1. to groom oneself:
    to smarten up before dinner.
  2. to become aware of one's mistakes, shortcomings, etc., and make efforts to correct them:
    If you don't smarten up, you're going to be out of a job.
Origin of smarten
1805-15; smart + -en1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for smartened up
Historical Examples
  • Nothing could look neater than those shelves of yours (illa tua pegmata), since they smartened up my books with their titles.

    The Care of Books John Willis Clark
  • The cool, sharp breath of a hidden mountain lake came down to them, and Donahue smartened up his gait.

    The Hills of Desire Richard Aumerle Maher
  • Every single hat and bonnet had to be taken from the stand, and carefully dusted, brushed, smartened up and replaced.

  • The doctor's study—the sanctum in which the interview should be held—had to be dusted and smartened up.

    Barrington Charles James Lever
  • The old entrance-front (in Liverpool Street) has been smartened up with stucco and stained-glass windows.

  • He did not paint him turned out for parade, ironed and smartened up, but in the worst trim.

  • Within an hour everything was altered; the old room was smartened up, the table shone.

  • It had been smartened up till it looked more like a doll's house than a human habitation.

    A Vanished Hand Sarah Doudney
  • The vicarage, too, has expanded, and been smartened up to suit more modern tastes and requirements.

    True to his Colours Theodore P. Wilson
  • The stepmother threw on a kerchief and smartened up the head of her daughter and took her to see the wedding.

British Dictionary definitions for smartened up


verb (usually foll by up)
(intransitive) to make oneself neater
(transitive) to make quicker or livelier
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 smartened up



"to make smart, to spruce up, to improve appearance," 1786, from smart (adj.) in its sense of "spruce, trim" + -en (1). Related: Smartened; smartening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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