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

  • adj. Having a thin edge or a fine point suitable for or capable of cutting or piercing.
  • adj. Having clear form and detail: a sharp photographic image.
  • adj. Terminating in an edge or a point: sharp angular cliffs; a sharp nose.
  • adj. Clearly and distinctly set forth: sharp contrasts in behavior.
  • adj. Abrupt or acute: a sharp drop; a sharp turn.
  • adj. Intellectually penetrating; astute.
  • adj. Marked by keenness and accuracy of perception: sharp hearing.
  • adj. Crafty or deceitful, as in business dealings: sharp selling practices.
  • adj. Vigilant; alert: kept a sharp lookout for shoplifters.
  • adj. Briskly or keenly cold and cutting: a sharp wind.
  • adj. Harsh or biting in tone or character: sharp criticism.
  • adj. Fierce or impetuous; violent: a sharp temper; a sharp assault.
  • adj. Intense; severe: a sharp pain.
  • adj. Sudden and shrill: a sharp whistle.
  • adj. Sudden and brilliant or dazzling: a sharp flash of lightning.
  • adj. Strongly affecting the senses of smell and taste: a sharp pungent odor; a sharp cheese.
  • adj. Composed of hard angular particles: sharp sand.
  • adj. Music Raised in pitch by a semitone.
  • adj. Music Being above the proper pitch.
  • adj. Music Having the key signature in sharps.
  • adj. Informal Attractive or stylish: a sharp jacket. See Synonyms at fashionable.
  • adv. In a sharp manner: hit me sharp on the brow.
  • adv. Punctually; exactly: at three o'clock sharp.
  • adv. Music Above the true or proper pitch.
  • n. Music A sign (♯) used to indicate that a note is to be raised by a half step.
  • n. Music A note that is raised a half step.
  • n. A slender sewing needle with a very fine point.
  • n. Informal An expert.
  • n. Informal A shrewd cheater; a sharper.
  • transitive v. To raise in pitch by a semitone.
  • intransitive v. To play or sing above the proper pitch.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Able to cut easily.
  • adj. Intelligent.
  • adj. Able to pierce easily; pointed.
  • adj. Higher than usual by one semitone (denoted by the symbol ♯ after the name of the note).
  • adj. Higher in pitch than required.
  • adj. Having an intense, acrid flavour.
  • adj. sudden and intense.
  • adj. Illegal or dishonest.
  • adj. Exact, precise, accurate; keen.
  • adj. Offensive, critical, or acrimonious, as sharp criticism.
  • adj. Stylish or attractive.
  • adj. Observant; alert; acute.
  • adj. Forming a small angle; especially, forming an angle of less than ninety degrees.
  • adj. Said of as extreme a value as possible.
  • adv. Exactly.
  • adv. In a higher pitch than is correct or desirable.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A note that is played a semitone higher than usual; denoted by the name of the note that is followed by the symbol ♯.
  • n. A note that is sharp in a particular key.
  • n. The scale having a particular sharp note as its tonic.
  • n. Something which is sharp.
  • n. A hypodermic syringe.
  • n. A scalpel or other edged instrument used in surgery.
  • n. A dishonest person; a cheater.
  • v. To raise the pitch of a note half a step making a natural note a sharp.
  • v. To play tricks in bargaining; to act the sharper.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having a very thin edge or fine point; of a nature to cut or pierce easily; not blunt or dull; keen.
  • adj. Terminating in a point or edge; not obtuse or rounded; somewhat pointed or edged; peaked or ridged
  • adj. Affecting the sense as if pointed or cutting, keen, penetrating, acute: to the taste or smell, pungent, acid, sour, as ammonia has a sharp taste and odor; to the hearing, piercing, shrill, as a sharp sound or voice; to the eye, instantaneously brilliant, dazzling, as a sharp flash.
  • adj.
  • adj. High in pitch; acute.
  • adj. Raised a semitone in pitch.
  • adj. So high as to be out of tune, or above true pitch. Opposed in all these senses to flat.
  • adj. Very trying to the feelings; piercing; keen; severe; painful; distressing.
  • adj. Cutting in language or import; biting; sarcastic; cruel; harsh; rigorous; severe.
  • adj. Of keen perception; quick to discern or distinguish; having nice discrimination; acute; penetrating; sagacious; clever.
  • adj. Eager in pursuit; keen in quest; impatient for gratification; keen.
  • adj. Fierce; ardent; fiery; violent; impetuous.
  • adj. Keenly or unduly attentive to one's own interest; close and exact in dealing; shrewd
  • adj. Composed of hard, angular grains; gritty.
  • adj. Steep; precipitous; abrupt.
  • adj. Uttered in a whisper, or with the breath alone, without voice, as certain consonants, such as p, k, t, f; surd; nonvocal; aspirated.
  • adv. To a point or edge; piercingly; eagerly; sharply.
  • adv. Precisely; exactly.
  • n. A sharp tool or weapon.
  • n.
  • n. The character [♯] used to indicate that the note before which it is placed is to be raised a half step, or semitone, in pitch.
  • n. A sharp tone or note.
  • n. A portion of a stream where the water runs very rapidly.
  • n. A sewing needle having a very slender point; a needle of the most pointed of the three grades, blunts, betweens, and sharps.
  • n. Same as Middlings, 1.
  • n. An expert.
  • intransitive v. To play tricks in bargaining; to act the sharper.
  • intransitive v. To sing above the proper pitch.
  • transitive v. To sharpen.
  • transitive v. To raise above the proper pitch; to elevate the tone of; especially, to raise a half step, or semitone, above the natural tone.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Having a fine cutting edge or point; acute; keen: opposed to blunt; as, a sharp sword; a sharp needle.
  • Terminating in a point or peak; peaked: opposed to obtuse, blunt, or rounded; as, a sharp roof; a sharp ridge.
  • Clean-cut; well-defined; distinct: opposed to blurred, misty, or hazy; specifically, in optics and photography, perfectly focused.
  • Abrupt; of acute angle; as, a sharp turn of the road: said also of the yards of a square-rigged vessel when they are braced at the most, acute angle with the keel.
  • Angular and hard; not rounded: as, sharp sand.
  • Angular; having the bones prominent, as in emaciation or leanness: as, a sharp visage.
  • Keenly affecting the organs of sense.
  • Shrill or piercing in sound; as, a sharp voice.
  • Keenly cold; piercing; biting; severe; as, a sharp frost; sharp weather.
  • Intensely bright.
  • Cutting; acrimonious; keen; severe; harsh; biting: us, sharp words; a sharp rebuke.
  • Stern; rigid; exacting.
  • Severe; intense: violent; impetuous; fierce; as, a sharp struggle or contest.
  • Poignant; painful or distressing; afflictive; as, a sharp fit of the gout; a sharp tribulation.
  • Acute; quick; keen; strong; noting the senses of sight and hearing; as, a sharp eye; a sharp ear.
  • Vigilant; attentive; as, to keep a sharp lookout for thieves or for danger.
  • Acute of mind; keen-witted; of quick or great discernment; shrewd; keen: as, a sharp man.
  • Keenly alive to one's interests; quick to see favorable circumstances and turn them to advantage; keen in business; hence, barely honest; “smart”: applied to both persons and things: as, sharp practices.
  • Disposed to say cutting things; sarcastic.
  • Subtle; nice; witty; acute: said of things.
  • Eager or keen, as in pursuit or quest.
  • Keenly contested: as, a sharp race.
  • Quick; speedy: as, a sharp walk; sharp work.
  • In phonetics, noting a consonant pronounced or uttered with breath and not with voice; surd; non-vocal: as, the sharp mutes, p, t, k.
  • In music:
  • Of tones, above a given or intended pitch: as, a piano is sharp.
  • Of intervals, either major or augmented: as, a sharp third (a major third); a sharp fifth (an augmented fifth).
  • Of keys or tonalities, having sharps in the signature: as, the key of D is a sharp key.
  • Of organ-stops, noting mutation- or mixture-stops that give shrill tones. Opposed to flat in all senses but the last.
  • Synonyms Sharp, Keen, Acute. Sharp is the general word, and is applicable to edges, long or short, coarse or fine, or to points. Keen is a strong word, and applies to long edges, as of a dagger, sword, or knife, not to points. Acute is not very often used to express sharpness; when used, it applies to a long, fine point, as of a needle.
  • Biting, pungent, hot, stinging, piquant, highly seasoned.
  • Nipping. Poignant, intense.
  • Astute, discerning, quick, ready, sagacious, cunning.
  • Caustic, tart.
  • n. A pointed weapon; especially, a small sword; a dueling-sword, as distinguished from a blunted or buttoned foil: as, he fences better with foils than with sharps.
  • n. plural One of the three usual grades of sewing-needles, the others being blunts and betweens. The sharps are the longest and most keenly pointed.
  • n. A sharper; a shark.
  • n. An expert; as, a mining sharp.
  • n. plural The hard parts of wheat, which require grinding a second time: same as middlings. See middling, n., 3.
  • n. A part of a stream where the water runs very rapidly.
  • n. An acute or shrill sound.
  • n. In music:
  • n. A tone one half-step above a given tone: as, the sharp of F (that is, F sharp).
  • n. On the pianoforte, with reference to any given key, the key next above or to the right. See flat, n., 7 .
  • n. In musical notation, the character ♯, which when attached to a note or staff-degree raises its significance one half-step. Opposed to flat in all senses.
  • n. A sharp consonant. See I., 18.
  • n. In diamond-cutting, the edge of the quadrant when an octahedral diamond is cleft into four parts.
  • n. A kind of boat used by oystermen. Also sharpie, sharpy.
  • n. A tone two half-steps higher than a given tone; the sharp of a sharp.
  • n. On the pianoforte, a key next but, one above or to the right of a given key.
  • n. The character ×, which when attached to a note or to a staff-degree raises its significance two half-steps.
  • To sharpen; make keen or acute.
  • In music, to elevate (a tone); specifically, to apply a sharp to (a note or staff-degree)—that is, to elevate it a half-step. Also sharpen.
  • To indulge in sharp practices; play the sharper; cheat.
  • In music, to sing or play above the true pitch. Also sharpen.
  • Sharply.
  • Quickly.
  • Exactly; to the moment; not a minute later.
  • In music, above the true pitch: as, to sing sharp.
  • n. The tone given by such a key, or a tone in unison with such a tone: the D sharp next above middle C has (at French pitch) about 308 vibrations per second.
  • n. The staff-degree assigned to such a key or tone, being the same as that for D, but with a sharp upon it either in the signature or as an accidental.
  • n. A note placed on such a degree and indicating such a key or tone.
  • n. The key-note of the minor key of six sharps (D sharp minor).
  • n. In the fixed system of solmization, the sharp of the second tone of the scale, technically named ri.
  • n. The tone given by such a key, or a tone in unison with such a tone: the G sharp next above middle C has (at French pitch) about 411 vibrations per second.
  • n. The staff-degree assigned to such a key or tone, being the same as that for G, but with a ♮ upon it either in the signature or as an accidental.
  • n. A note placed on such a degree and indicating such a key or tone.
  • n. The keynote of the minor key of five sharps (G sharp minor).
  • n. In the fixed system of solmization, the sharp of the fifth tone of the scale, technically named si (not to be confounded with the same syllable when used for the seventh tone).

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

  • n. a musical notation indicating one half step higher than the note named
  • adv. changing suddenly in direction and degree
  • adj. having or demonstrating ability to recognize or draw fine distinctions
  • adj. having or made by a thin edge or sharp point; suitable for cutting or piercing
  • adj. harsh
  • adj. keenly and painfully felt; as if caused by a sharp edge or point
  • adj. quick and forceful
  • adj. very sudden and in great amount or degree
  • adj. (of a musical note) raised in pitch by one chromatic semitone
  • adj. extremely steep
  • adj. ending in a sharp point
  • adj. marked by practical hardheaded intelligence
  • adj. (of something seen or heard) clearly defined
  • adj. having or emitting a high-pitched and sharp tone or tones
  • n. a long thin sewing needle with a sharp point


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

Middle English scharp, from Old English scearp; see sker-1 in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English scearp, from Proto-Germanic *skarpaz (cf. West Frisian skerp, Dutch scherp, German scharf), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)kerb(h) (cf. Irish cearb 'keen; cutting', Latin acerbus 'tart, bitter', Tocharian B kärpye 'rough', Latvian skârbs 'sharp, rough', Russian shcherba 'notch', Albanian harb 'rudeness'), from *(s)ker- 'to cut'. More at shear.


  • But if the first pedal is now pushed down into the second notch the original F [flat] string is still further shortened and now sounds the pitch F [sharp] (giving us the key of G), and if all the other pedals are likewise successively lowered to the second notch we get in turn all the _sharp keys_ -- D, A, E, B,

    Music Notation and Terminology

  • To illustrate the difference in basic attitude, the term “sharp business practices” needs no explanation, whereas ’sharp scientific practices’ might imply just the opposite of the prior phrase.

    Letter to NAS on Panel Composition and Balance « Climate Audit

  • The new neighbor was caught now, her expression sharp as a pencil point.

    Songs of Love & Death

  • Caine looked up at the younger man, his expression sharp but his tone soft.

    Florida Getaway

  • The sales been dropping but they gone keep bouncing back all they got to do is hire some southern artist to keep the label sharp and hungry and New Orleans and Atlanta got some of the most starvin and talented artist out now. - Articles related to Indian auto industry records highest sales for May

  • Melt a bit of sharp cheddar (Tillamook extra sharp is my favorite, if I can find it here in LA -- there's some embargo which usually prevents anything better than plain old sharp from making it to our stores) and dip it in a spot of French's plain old yellow mustard before each bite, and I am a happy, happy guy.

    In Exile: 37 posts from February 2006

  • Schiller, which he called sharp and biting, while he called his own innocent and trivial.

    The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 02 Masterpieces of German Literature Translated into English. in Twenty Volumes

  • And as for imputations -- my imputing bad motives to you -- I don't know how far you may be joking, and saying what you call sharp things to me; but you have no right to think that I should think evil of you.

    Framley Parsonage

  • He praised the NTC for its emphasis on freeing Libya and for adhering to the Geneva conventions to protect human rights, which he called a sharp contrast to the position taken by Gadhafi's regime.

    The Seattle Times

  • He praised the NTC for its emphasis on freeing Libya and for adhering to the Geneva conventions to protect human rights, which he called a sharp contrast to the position taken by Qaddafi's regime.

    Breaking News: CBS News


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  • A sharp tongue is the only edge tool that grows keener by constant use.

    (Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle)

    June 16, 2008