Meaning of “sharpen” in the English Dictionary

"sharpen" in British English

See all translations

sharpenverb [ T ]

uk /ˈʃɑː.pən/ us /ˈʃɑːr.pən/

sharpen verb [ T ] (ABLE TO CUT)

C2 to make something sharp or sharper:

My pencil is blunt - I'll have to sharpen it.
figurative The company is cutting production costs in an attempt to sharpen its competitive edge (= in order to improve how competitive it is).

More examples

sharpen verb [ T ] (MAKE STRONG)

to make something stronger:

Recent changes have sharpened competition between the airlines.
The prison riots have sharpened the debate about how prisons should be run.

to improve:

I hope this course will help me sharpen my computer skills.
I went to university to sharpen my mind.
We'll need to sharpen our wits if we're going to defeat Jack's team.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “sharpen” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"sharpen" in American English

See all translations

sharpenverb [ T ]

us /ˈʃɑr·pən/

sharpen verb [ T ] (MAKE STRONGER)

to make something stronger, or to improve something:

The dollar’s decline in value sharpened fears of another recession.
I’m taking a course that should help me sharpen my computer skills.

sharpen verb [ T ] (MAKE CLEARER)

to make something clearer:

Turn the knob to sharpen the focus of the slide projector.

sharpen verb [ T ] (MAKE SHARP)

to make something sharp or sharper:

We just had these knives/scissors sharpened.
He sharpened his pencil (= made the end used for writing come to a point).

(Definition of “sharpen” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)