From Middle English scharp, from Old English sċearp, from Proto-Germanic *skarpaz, from Proto-Indo-European *(s)kerb-. Cognate with West Frisian skerp, Low German scharp, Dutch scherp, German scharf, Danish skarp. Compare Irish cearb (“keen; cutting”), Latin acerbus (“tart, bitter”), Tocharian B kärpye (“rough”), Latvian skârbs (“sharp, rough”), Russian щерба (ščerba, “notch”), Polish szczerba (“gap, dent, jag, chip, nick, notch”), Albanian harb (“rudeness”), from *(s)ker- (“to cut”). More at shear.
sharp (comparative sharper, superlative sharpest)
- Terminating in a point or edge, especially one that can cut easily; not obtuse or rounded.
1879, R[ichard] J[efferies], chapter II, in The Amateur Poacher, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., […], OCLC 752825175: Orion hit a rabbit once; but though sore wounded it got to the bury, and, struggling in, the arrow caught the side of the hole and was drawn out. Indeed, a nail filed sharp is not of much avail as an arrowhead; you must have it barbed, and that was a little beyond our skill.
1984, Michael Grater, Paper Mask Making, →ISBN, page 55:
If a knife which is sharp is incorrectly used it will obviously be dangerous.
2002, Carol Pier, Tainted Harvest, →ISBN:
Fifteen children reported handling curvos, five machetes, and one a sharp knife used to cut yellow leaves off the banana plants.
2006, Werner U. Spitz, Daniel J. Spitz, Russell S. Fisher, Spitz and Fisher's Medicolegal Investigation of Death, →ISBN:
Yet, review of 25 years of English language literature on the subject of sharp force injury adds remarkably little to this topic. Sharp force covers a vast array of injuries produced with sharp objects capable of cutting or stabbing or both.
I keep my knives sharp so that they don't slip unexpectedly while carving.
Ernest made the pencil too sharp and accidentally stabbed himself with it.
A face with sharp features
- (colloquial) Intelligent.
My nephew is a sharp lad; he can count to 100 in six languages, and he's only five years old.
2015 February 20, Jesse Jackson, “In the Ferguson era, Malcolm X’s courage in fighting racism inspires more than ever”, in The Guardian (London):
At school, despite his sharp mind, Malcolm was laughed at by teachers when he said he wanted to be a lawyer.
- (music) Higher than usual by one semitone (denoted by the symbol ♯ after the name of the note).
- (music) Higher in pitch than required.
The orchestra's third violin several times was sharp about an eighth of a tone.
- Having an intense, acrid flavour.
Milly couldn't stand sharp cheeses when she was pregnant, because they made her nauseated.
- Sudden and intense.
A pregnant woman during labor normally experiences a number of sharp contractions.
- (colloquial) Illegal or dishonest.
Michael had a number of sharp ventures that he kept off the books.
- (colloquial) Keenly or unduly attentive to one's own interests; shrewd.
a sharp dealer; a sharp customer
1732, Jonathan Swift, Considerations Upon Two Bills:
But, as they have hitherto stood, a clergyman established in a competent living is not under the necessity of being so sharp, vigilant, and exacting.
- Exact, precise, accurate; keen.
You'll need sharp aim to make that shot.
2013 July-August, Catherine Clabby, “Focus on Everything”, in American Scientist: Not long ago, it was difficult to produce photographs of tiny creatures with every part in focus. […] A photo processing technique called focus stacking has changed that. Developed as a tool to electronically combine the sharpest bits of multiple digital images, focus stacking is a boon to biologists seeking full focus on a micron scale.
- Offensive, critical, or acrimonious.
When the two rivals met, first there were sharp words, and then a fight broke out.
- (colloquial) Stylish or attractive.
You look so sharp in that tuxedo!
- Observant; alert; acute.
Keep a sharp watch on the prisoners. I don't want them to escape!
- Forming a small angle; especially, forming an angle of less than ninety degrees.
Drive down Main for three quarters of a mile, then make a sharp right turn onto Pine.
- Steep; precipitous; abrupt.
a sharp ascent or descent; a sharp turn or curve
- (mathematics, of a statement) Said of as extreme a value as possible.
Sure, any planar graph can be five-colored. But that result is not sharp: in fact, any planar graph can be four-colored. That is sharp: the same can't be said for any lower number.
- (chess) Tactical; risky.
- 1963, Max Euwe, Chess Master Vs. Chess Amateur (page xviii)
- Time and time again, the amateur player has lost the opportunity to make the really best move because he felt bound to follow some chess "rule" he had learned, rather than to make the sharp move which was indicated by the position.
- 1975, Luděk Pachman, Decisive Games in Chess History (page 64)
- In such situations most chess players choose the obvious and logical way: they go in for sharp play. However, not everyone is a natural attacking player […]
- Piercing; keen; severe; painful.
a sharp pain; the sharp and frosty winter air
c. 1591–1595, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Romeo and Ivliet”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act V, scene i]:
Sharp misery had worn him to the bones.
1785, William Cowper, The Task: The Winter Walk at Noon:
The night was Winter in his roughest mood; the morning sharp and clear.
1867, John Keble, “St. Peter's Release”, in J.G.Holland, editor, Christ and the Twelve: Scenes and Events in the Life of Our Saviour and His Apostles, page 424:
In sharpest perils faithful proved, Let his soul love thee to the end.
- Eager or keen in pursuit; impatient for gratification.
a sharp appetite
- (obsolete) Fierce; ardent; fiery; violent; impetuous.
1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost:
And fear of God, from whom their piety feign'd In sharp contest of battle found no aid Against invaders
1665, John Dryden, The Indian Emperor: Act III:
A sharp assault already is begun;
- Composed of hard, angular grains; gritty.
1700, Edward Moxon, Mechanical Exercises:
Well-burnt good lime and sharp sand, if very sharp, a load of sand (about 36 bushels) to a hundred of lime (being 25 bushels, or a hundred pecks […]
- (phonetics, dated) Uttered in a whisper, or with the breath alone; aspirated; unvoiced.
- (obsolete) Hungry.
- 1782, Frances Burney, Cecilia, II.iii.1:
- “[W]hy this last week we ha'n't had nothing at all but some dry musty red herrings; so you may think, Miss, we're kept pretty sharp!”
- (able to cut easily): keen, razor, razor-sharp
- (intelligent): brainy, bright, intelligent, keen, smart, witty
- (able to pierce easily): pointed
- (having an intense and acrid flavour): acrid, pungent
- (sudden and intense): abrupt, acute, stabbing
- (illegal, dishonest): dishonest, dodgy, illegal, illicit, underhand
- (accurate): accurate, exact, keen, precise
- (critical): acrimonious, bitter, cutting, harsh, hostile, nasty
- (stylish, attractive): chic, elegant, smart, stylish
- (observant): acute, alert, keen, observant, sharp-eyed
- (able to cut easily): blunt, dull
- (intelligent): dim, dim-witted, slow, slow-witted, thick
- (able to pierce easily): blunt
- (higher than usual by one semitone): flat
- (music: higher in pitch than required): flat
- (having an intense and acrid flavour): bland, insipid, tasteless
- (sudden and intense): dull
- (illegal, dishonest): above-board, honest, legit, legitimate, reputable
- (accurate): inaccurate, imprecise
- (critical): complimentary, flattering, friendly, kind, nice
- (stylish, attractive): inelegant, scruffy, shabby
- (observant): unobservant
Terms derived from sharp (adjective)
able to cut easily
- Aklanon: talum
- American Sign Language: Open8@BackHand-PalmDown-FlatB@CenterChesthigh-PalmDown Open8@NearBackHand-PalmDown
- Arabic: حَاد (ḥād)
- Armenian: սուր (hy) (sur)
- Aromanian: tãljos
- Assamese: ধাৰ (dhar), চোকা (süka)
- Azerbaijani: iti (az)
- Bashkir: үткер (ütker)
- Bau Bidayuh: biroja'
- Bavarian: scharf
- Bikol Central: matarom
- Belarusian: во́стры (be) (vóstry)
- Bulgarian: о́стър (bg) (óstǎr)
- Burmese: ချွန် (my) (hkywan), ချွန်ထက် (my) (hkywanhtak)
- Catalan: esmolat, agut (ca)
- Chechen: ира (ira)
- Mandarin: 銳利 (zh), 锐利 (zh) (ruìlì)
- Czech: ostrý (cs)
- Danish: skarp, spids (da)
- Dutch: scherp (nl)
- Erzya: пшти (pšti)
- Esperanto: akra (eo)
- Even: эмэр (əmər)
- Evenki: эмэр (əmər)
- Faroese: hvassur (fo)
- Finnish: terävä (fi)
- French: affilé (fr), coupant (fr), affuté (fr), tranchant (fr), acéré (fr), effilé (fr), aigu (fr)
- Friulian: učât, spuntît, spiçât
- Georgian: მახვილი (maxvili)
- German: scharf (de)
- Greek: κοφτερός (el) m (kofterós)
- Ancient: ὀξύς (oxús)
- Hebrew: חַד (he) m (ḥad), שָׁנוּן (he) m (shanún)
- Higaonon: magalang
- Hungarian: éles (hu)
- Icelandic: hvass (is)
- Ido: akuta (io)
- Indonesian: tajam (id)
- Ingush: ира (ira)
- Irish: géar, aichear (literary), faobhrach
- Italian: affilato (it), aguzzo (it)
- Japanese: 鋭い (ja) (するどい, surudoi), 鋭利な (ja) (えいりな, eiri na), 犀利な (さいりな, sairi na)
- Javanese: landhep (jv)
- Kabuverdianu: afiadu, afióde
- Kapampangan: mataram
- Kashubian: òstri
- Khmer: មុត (km) (mut)
- Korean: 날카로운 (ko) (nalkaroun)
- Krio: shap
- Central Kurdish: تیژ (ku) (tîj)
- Northern Kurdish: tûj (ku)
- Ladino: aguzado
- Latgalian: oss m
- Latin: acer (la) m, acutus (la) m
- Latvian: ass (lv) m, asa f
- Lithuanian: aštrus m
- Lombard: guzz (lmo), güss
- Macedonian: остар (ostar)
- Maguindanao: magarang
- Malay: tajam (ms)
- Manchu: ᡩᠠᠴᡠᠩᡤᠠ (dacungga)
- Mansaka: tarum
- Maranao: magarang
- Mongolian: хурц (mn) (hurts)
- Classical Mongolian: ᠬᠤᠷᠴᠠ (qurča)
- Navajo: deení
- Norwegian: skarp (no)
- Occitan: agusat, agut (oc)
- Old English: scearp (ang)
- Old Javanese: tajĕm
- Oscan: 𐌀𐌊𐌓𐌉 (akri)
- Ossetian: цыргъ (cyrǧ)
- Persian: تیز (fa) (tiz)
- Plautdietsch: schoap
- Polish: ostry (pl)
- Portuguese: afiado (pt), aguçado (pt), agudo (pt)
- Rapa Nui: ka'i
- Romanian: ascuțit (ro)
- Russian: о́стрый (ru) (óstryj)
- Sanskrit: तीक्ष्ण (sa) (tīkṣṇa)
- Scottish Gaelic: geur, biorach, searbh
- Cyrillic: о̀шта̄р
- Roman: òštār (sh)
- Slovak: ostrý
- Slovene: oster (sl)
- Lower Sorbian: wótšy
- Upper Sorbian: wótry
- Spanish: agudo (es), afilado (es), filoso (es)
- Sundanese: seukeut
- Swedish: skarp (sv), vass (sv)
- Tagalog: matalim
- Tamil: கூரான (ta) (kūrāṉa)
- Telugu: పదునైన (padunaina)
- Tetum: kroat
- Thai: คม (th) (kom)
- Turkish: keskin (tr)
- Ukrainian: го́стрий (hóstryj)
- Vietnamese: sắc (vi), (Southern dialect) bén (vi)
- Walloon: côpant, awijhî (wa)
- Welsh: miniog (cy)
- Western Bukidnon Manobo: garang
- White Hmong: ntse
- Yakut: сытыы (sıtıı)
- Yiddish: שאַרף (sharf)
- Zealandic: scherp
- ǃXóõ: ǃqáũ
- Armenian: սրամիտ (hy) (sramit)
- Assamese: চোকা (süka)
- Bashkir: аҡыллы (aqıllı), зирәк (ziräk), башлы (başlı)
- Bulgarian: умен (bg) (umen)
- Catalan: llest (ca)
- Czech: bystrý (cs)
- Dutch: scherpzinnig (nl)
- Esperanto: saĝa, inteligenta (eo)
- Finnish: terävä (fi), terävä-älyinen (fi)
- French: vif (fr)
- German: scharfsinning
- Greek: έξυπνος (el) (éxypnos), οξυδερκής (el) m or f (oxyderkís), οξύνους (el) m or f (oxýnous)
- Hebrew: חָרִיף (he) m (ḥaríf), שָׁנוּן (he) m (shanún)
- Irish: géar, géarchúiseach
- Italian: intelligente (it), acuto (it)
- Japanese: 鋭い (ja) (するどい, surudoi), 鋭利な (ja) (えいりな, eiri na)
pointed, able to pierce easily
of a note, played a semitone higher than usual
musically higher-pitched than desired
having an intense, acrid flavour
intense and sudden (of pain)
exact, precise, accurate, keen
(mathematics) as extreme a value as possible
Translations to be checked
sharp (comparative sharper, superlative sharpest)
- To a point or edge; piercingly; eagerly; sharply.
- 1853, Matthew Arnold, Sohrab and Rustum
- The iron plates rang sharp, but turn'd the spear
c. 1602, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Troylus and Cressida”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act II, scene ii]:
You bite so sharp at reasons.
- (not comparable) Exactly.
2020 September 1, Tom Lamont, “Open at 9am sharp, Frank had waited until 11.30am for his first visitor of the day – and here I came, not with an empty shopping basket, but a reporter’s notebook.”, in The Guardian:
I'll see you at twelve o'clock sharp.
- (music) In a higher pitch than is correct or desirable.
I didn't enjoy the concert much because the tenor kept going sharp on the high notes.
in a higher pitch than is correct or desirable
sharp (plural sharps)
- (music) The symbol ♯, placed after the name of a note in the key signature or before a note on the staff to indicate that the note is to be played a semitone higher.
The pitch pipe sounded out a perfect F♯ (F sharp).
Transposition frequently is harder to read because of all the sharps and flats on the staff.
- (music) A note that is played a semitone higher than usual; denoted by the name of the note that is followed by the symbol ♯.
- (music) A note that is sharp in a particular key.
The piece was difficult to read after it had been transposed, since in the new key many notes were sharps.
- (music) The scale having a particular sharp note as its tonic.
Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" is written in C♯ minor (C sharp minor.)
- (usually in the plural) Something that is sharp.
Place sharps in the specially marked red container for safe disposal.
- c. 1700 Jeremy Collier, On Duelling
- If butchers had but the manners to go to sharps, gentlemen would be contented with a rubber at cuffs.
- (medicine) A hypodermic syringe.
- (medicine, dated) A scalpel or other edged instrument used in surgery.
- A sharp tool or weapon.
- A dishonest person; a cheater.
1885, W[illiam] S[chwenck] Gilbert; Arthur Sullivan, composer, “A More Humane Mikado”, in […] The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu, London: Chappel & Co., […], OCLC 25083293, Act II, page 36:
The billiard sharp whom anyone catches / His doom's extremely hard— [...]
The casino kept in the break room a set of pictures of known sharps for the bouncers to see.
- This usage is often classified as variant spelling of shark, and unrelated to the 'pointed' or 'cutting' meanings of sharp.
- Part of a stream where the water runs very rapidly.
- 1858, Charles Kingsley, "Chalk Stream Studies", in Fraser's Magazine
- here are good fish to be picked out of sharps and stop-holes into the water-tables
- A sewing needle with a very slender point, more pointed than a blunt or a between.
- (in the plural) Fine particles of husk mixed with coarse particle of flour of cereals; middlings.
- 1954, Barbara Comyns, Who Was Changed And Who Was Dead, Dorothy 2010, p. 21:
- While he worked he talked to his ducks, who were waddling about hopefully, as it was almost time for the red bucket to be filled with sharps and potato-peelings.
- (slang, dated) An expert.
- A sharpie (member of Australian gangs of the 1960s and 1970s).
2006, Iain McIntyre, Tomorrow Is Today: Australia in the Psychedelic Era, 1966-1970:
The Circle was one of the few dances the older sharps frequented; mostly they were to be found in pubs, pool-halls or at the track.
sign for a sharp note on the staff
note that is sharp in a particular key
cheater or dishonest person
Translations to be checked
sharp (third-person singular simple present sharps, present participle sharping, simple past and past participle sharped)
- (music) To raise the pitch of a note half a step making a natural note a sharp.
That new musician must be tone deaf: he sharped half the notes of the song!
- To play tricks in bargaining; to act the sharper.
- (transitive, obsolete) To sharpen.
- sharp at OneLook Dictionary Search
- sharp in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911