adjective, sharp·er, sharp·est.

  1. having a thin cutting edge or a fine point; well-adapted for cutting or piercing: a sharp knife.
  2. terminating in an edge or point; not blunt or rounded: The table had sharp corners.
  3. involving a sudden or abrupt change in direction or course: a sharp curve in the road; The car made a sharp turn.
  4. abrupt, as an ascent: a sharp drop.
  5. consisting of angular lines and pointed forms or of thin, long features: He had a sharp face.
  6. clearly defined; distinct: a sharp photographic image.
  7. distinct or marked, as a contrast: sharp differences of opinion.
  8. pungent or biting in taste: a sharp cheese.
  9. piercing or shrill in sound: a sharp cry.
  10. keenly cold, as weather: a sharp, biting wind.
  11. felt acutely; intense; distressing: sharp pain.
  12. merciless, caustic, or harsh: sharp words.
  13. fierce or violent: a sharp struggle.
  14. keen or eager: sharp desire.
  15. quick, brisk, or spirited.
  16. alert or vigilant: They kept a sharp watch for the enemy.
  17. mentally acute: a sharp lad.
  18. extremely sensitive or responsive; keen: sharp vision; sharp hearing.
  19. shrewd or astute: a sharp bargainer.
  20. shrewd to the point of dishonesty: sharp practice.
  21. Music.
    1. (of a tone) raised a chromatic half step in pitch: F sharp.
    2. above an intended pitch, as a note; too high (opposed to flat1def 26b).
  22. Informal. very stylish: a sharp dresser; a sharp jacket.
  23. Radio, Electronics. of, relating to, or responsive to a very narrow range of frequencies.Compare broadband.
  24. Phonetics. fortis; voiceless.
  25. composed of hard, angular grains, as sand.

verb (used with object)

  1. Music. to raise in pitch, especially by one chromatic half step.

verb (used without object)

  1. to sound above the true pitch.


  1. keenly or acutely.
  2. abruptly or suddenly: to pull a horse up sharp.
  3. punctually: Meet me at one o’clock sharp.
  4. vigilantly: Look sharp!
  5. briskly; quickly.
  6. Music. above the true pitch: You’re singing a little sharp.


  1. something sharp.
  2. Usually sharps. a medium-length needle with a rounded eye and a sharp point, used for all-purpose hand sewing.
  3. a sharper.
  4. Informal. an expert.
  5. Music.
    1. a tone one chromatic half step above a given tone.
    2. (in musical notation) the symbol ♯ indicating this.


  1. WilliamFiona Macleod, 1855?–1905, Scottish poet and critic.


  1. having a keen edge suitable for cutting
  2. having an edge or point; not rounded or blunt
  3. involving a sudden change, esp in directiona sharp bend
  4. moving, acting, or reacting quickly, efficiently, etcsharp reflexes
  5. clearly defined
  6. mentally acute; clever; astute
  7. sly or artful; clever in an underhand waysharp practice
  8. bitter or harshsharp words
  9. shrill or penetratinga sharp cry
  10. having an acrid taste
  11. keen; bitinga sharp wind; sharp pain
  12. music
    1. (immediately postpositive)denoting a note that has been raised in pitch by one chromatic semitoneB sharp
    2. (of an instrument, voice, etc) out of tune by being or tending to be too high in pitchCompare flat 1 (def. 23)
  13. phonetics a less common word for fortis
  14. informal
    1. stylish
    2. too smart
  15. at the sharp end involved in the area of any activity where there is most difficulty, competition, danger, etc


  1. in a sharp manner
  2. exactlysix o’clock sharp
  3. music
    1. higher than a standard pitch
    2. out of tune by being or tending to be too high in pitchshe sings sharp Compare flat 1 (def. 29)


  1. music
    1. an accidental that raises the pitch of the following note by one chromatic semitoneUsual symbol:
    2. a note affected by this accidentalCompare flat 1 (def. 35)
  2. a thin needle with a sharp point
  3. informal a sharper
  4. (usually plural) any medical instrument with sharp point or edge, esp a hypodermic needle


  1. (tr) music, US and Canadian to raise the pitch of (a note), esp by one chromatic semitoneUsual equivalent in Britain and certain other countries): sharpen


  1. Southern African slang an exclamation of full agreement or approval


  1. Cecil (James). 1859–1924, British musician, best known for collecting, editing, and publishing English folk songs

adj.Old English scearp “having a cutting edge; pointed; intellectually acute, active, shrewd; keen (of senses); severe; biting, bitter (of tastes),” from Proto-Germanic *skarpaz, literally “cutting” (cf. Old Saxon scarp, Old Norse skarpr, Old Frisian skerp, Dutch scherp, German scharf “sharp”), from PIE *(s)ker- (1) “to cut” (cf. Lettish skarbs “sharp,” Middle Irish cerb “cutting;” see shear). The figurative meaning “acute or penetrating in intellect or perception” was in Old English; hence “keenly alive to one’s own interests, quick to take advantage” (1690s). Of words or talk, “cutting, sarcastic,” from early 13c. Meaning “distinct in contour” is from 1670s. The adverbial meaning “abruptly” is from 1836; that of “promptly” is first attested 1840. The musical meaning “half step above (a given tone)” is from 1570s. Meaning “stylish” is from 1944, hepster slang, from earlier general slang sense of “excellent” (1940). Phrase sharp as a tack first recorded 1912 (sharp as a needle has been around since Old English). Sharp-shinned attested from 1704 of persons, 1813 of hawks. n.“a cheat at games,” 1797, short for sharper (1680s) in this sense. Meaning “expert, connoisseur” is attested from 1840, and likely is from sharp (adj.). Music sense is from 1570s. The noun was used 14c. as “a sharp weapon, edge of a sword.” In addition to the idioms beginning with sharp

  • sharp as a tack
  • sharp practice
  • also see:

  • keep an eye (a sharp lookout) for
  • look sharp
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