- 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[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[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[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[intransitive, transitive] sharpen (something) if your voice sharpens or something sharpens it, it becomes high and loud in an unpleasant way
NAmE//ˈʃɑrpən//Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they sharpen
he / she / it sharpens
past simple sharpened
-ing form sharpening