American English

Definition of sharpen verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they sharpen
    he / she / it sharpens
    past simple sharpened
    -ing form sharpening
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  1. 1[transitive, intransitive] sharpen (something) to make something sharper; to become sharper She sharpened her pencils and started drawing. This knife needs sharpening. The outline of the trees sharpened as it grew lighter.
  2. 2[intransitive, transitive] sharpen (something) if a sense or feeling sharpens or something sharpens it, it becomes stronger and/or clearer Her hearing was sharpened by fear. The sea air sharpened our appetites. Clare's kindness sharpened his awareness of the differences between them.
  3. 3[transitive] sharpen something to make a disagreement between people, or an issue on which people disagree, clearer and more likely to produce a result There is a need to sharpen the focus of the discussion.
  4. 4[intransitive, transitive] to become or make something better, more skillful, more effective, etc. than before synonym improve sharpen (up) He needs to sharpen up before the Olympic trials. sharpen something (up) She's taking a class to sharpen her business skills. We're looking to sharpen up the product's image.
  5. 5[intransitive, transitive] sharpen (something) if your voice sharpens or something sharpens it, it becomes high and loud in an unpleasant way
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: sharpen