from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A fine-grained whetstone for giving a keen edge to a cutting tool.
  • n. A tool with a rotating abrasive tip for enlarging holes to precise dimensions.
  • transitive v. To sharpen on a fine-grained whetstone.
  • transitive v. To perfect or make more intense or effective: a speaker who honed her delivery by long practice.
  • hone in To move or advance toward a target or goal: The missiles honed in on the military installation.
  • hone in To direct one's attention; focus: The lawyer honed in on the gist of the plaintiff's testimony.
  • intransitive v. Informal To whine or moan.
  • intransitive v. Informal To hanker; yearn.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A sharpening stone composed of extra-fine grit used for removing the burr or curl from the blade of a razor or some other edge tool.
  • n. A machine tool used in the manufacture of precision bores.
  • v. To sharpen with a hone.
  • v. To use a hone to produce a precision bore.
  • v. To refine or master (a skill).
  • v. To make more acute, intense, or effective.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A kind of swelling in the cheek.
  • n. A stone of a fine grit, or a slab, as of metal, covered with an abrading substance or powder, used for sharpening cutting instruments, and especially for setting razors; an oilstone.
  • intransitive v. To grumble; pine; lament; long.
  • transitive v. To sharpen on, or with, a hone; to rub on a hone in order to sharpen.
  • transitive v. to render more precise or more effective.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To rub and sharpen on or as on a hone: as, to hone a razor.
  • To linger; delay.
  • To pine; long; yearn; moan.
  • To long for; crave.
  • A dialectal contraction of hosen, plural of hose.
  • See och hone.
  • n. A stone used for sharpening instruments that require a delicate edge, and particularly for sharpening razors; an oilstone. A hone differs from a whetstone in being of finer grit and more compact texture. See honestone.
  • n. A thin piece of dry and stale bread; also, an oil-cake.
  • n. Delay; lingering.
  • n. A kind of swelling in the cheek.
  • n. A circular barrow or hill.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. sharpen with a hone
  • n. a whetstone made of fine gritstone; used for sharpening razors
  • v. make perfect or complete


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, from Old English hān, stone. Hone in, alteration of home in.
Obsolete French hoigner, from Old French, perhaps from hon, cry of discontent.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English hon ‘whetstone’, from Old English hān, from Proto-Germanic *hainō (compare Dutch heen, Norwegian hein), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱeh₃i- ‘to sharpen’ (compare Greek κώνος (kṓnos) ‘cone’, Persian sān ‘whetstone’).



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  • Many authorities consider "hone in" to be incorrect usage. I know I do. My preference is "home in."

    October 27, 2010

  • ...the bereaved Parnassian

    hones a canine tooth,

    sharpens a pencil.

    - Peter Reading, Minima, from Diplopic, 1983

    June 30, 2008