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keep a sharp lookout (for something or someone)

To remain vigilant or carefully watchful (for something or someone). They should be arriving any minute, so keep a sharp lookout. Keep a sharp lookout for a Christmas present we could give your mother. Keep a sharp lookout for the health inspector, we heard he'll be doing a surprise inspection someday soon.

sharp cookie

A particularly smart, witty, or clever person. Dan: "I'm having a heck of a time doing my taxes, I just don't understand it at all." Steve: "You should get in touch with my uncle, he's one sharp cookie!" We're always looking to hire sharp cookies like you.
See also: cookie, sharp

sharp practice

Underhanded, deceitful, cunning, or particularly sneaky practice, especially in business, that is technically within the scope of the law but which may be considered immoral or unethical. The investment banking sector has been tightly reined in by the government after the sharp practice that went unchecked for so many years and cost so many people their life savings.
See also: practice, sharp

short sharp shock

A fast, severe punishment. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. He needs a short sharp shock to persuade him to change his ways and give up that life of crime.
See also: sharp, shock, short


1. Literally, very sharp, like a razor. Stand back, that tool is razor-sharp! Please be careful cutting those vegetables with such a razor-sharp knife.
2. Particularly clear, perceptive, and/or intelligent. Victoria may seem quiet, but she always has these razor-sharp insights on the texts we're reading. The think tank is known for razor-sharp analysis of world affairs. A lot of people are funny, but she has razor-sharp wit.

at (some time) sharp

At an exact time, with the emphasis that one must not be late. We need to leave for the airport at 8 AM sharp tomorrow morning. Please be here at 6:30 sharp.
See also: sharp

be as sharp as a tack

To be intelligent and a quick-thinker. Ted's as sharp as a tack, so he'll find a solution to this problem. Of course Ellen is our valedictorian—she's as sharp as a tack.
See also: sharp, tack

the sharp end

The most challenging or difficult part of an activity. This repair is pretty simple until we get to the sharp end—replacing the battery. The sharp end of this merger will be negotiating the payouts to the executives.
See also: end, sharp

(as) sharp as a tack

Intelligent and a quick-thinker. Ted's as sharp as a tack, so he'll find a solution to this problem. Of course Ellen is our valedictorian—she's as sharp as a tack.
See also: sharp, tack

at some time sharp

exactly at the time named. You must be here at noon sharp. The plane is expected to arrive at seven forty-five sharp.
See also: sharp, time

have a mind as sharp as a steel trap

Fig. to be very intelligent. She's a smart kid. Has a mind as sharp as a steel trap. They say the professor has a mind as sharp as a steel trap, but then why can't he figure out which bus to take in the morning?
See also: have, mind, sharp, steel, trap

sharp as a razor

1. very sharp. (*Also: as ~.) The penknife is sharp as a razor. The carving knife will have to be as sharp as a razor to cut through this gristle.
2. and sharp as a tack very sharp-witted or intelligent. (*Also: as ~.) The old man's senile, but his wife is as sharp as a razor. Sue configure things out from even the slightest hint. She's as sharp as a tack.
See also: razor, sharp

sharp tongue

Fig. an outspoken or harsh manner; a critical manner of speaking. He has quite a sharp tongue. Don't be totally unnerved by what he says or the way he says it.
See also: sharp, tongue

sharp wit

Fig. a good and fast ability to make jokes and funny comments. Terry has a sharp wit and often makes cracks that force people to laugh aloud at inappropriate times.
See also: sharp, wit

throw something into sharp relief

Fig. [for something] to make something plainly evident or clearly visible. The dull, plain background threw the ornate settee into sharp relief. The red vase was thrown into sharp relief against the black background.
See also: relief, sharp, throw

keep an eye out for

Also, keep a sharp lookout for. Be watchful for something or someone, as in Keep an eye out for the potholes in the road, or They told him to keep a sharp lookout for the police. The first expression, sometimes amplified to keep a sharp eye out for, dates from the late 1800s, the variant from the mid-1700s. Also see have one's eye on, def. 1; keep a weather eye; keep one's eyes open; look out.
See also: eye, keep, out

look sharp

Get moving, be alert, as in The coach told the team they would have to look sharp if they wanted to win. This colloquial expression, dating from the early 1700s, originally meant "to keep a strict watch" but acquired its present sense in the early 1800s.
See also: look, sharp

sharp as a tack

Also, sharp as a razor. Mentally acute. For example, She's very witty-she's sharp as a tack. These similes are also used literally to mean "having a keen cutting edge" and have largely replaced the earlier sharp as a needle or thorn. The first dates from about 1900, the variant from the mid-1800s.
See also: sharp, tack

sharp practice

Crafty or deceitful dealings, especially in business. For example, That firm's known for its sharp practice, so I'd rather not deal with them. This expression, first recorded in 1836, uses sharp in the combined sense of "mentally acute" and "cutting."
See also: practice, sharp

the sharp end

mainly BRITISH
COMMON The sharp end of an activity or type of work is the part where the most difficulties or the hardest work are experienced. Crime prevention is now the sharp end of policing. Still only 28, Smith has been at the sharp end of activism for almost a decade. Note: In sailors' slang, the bow or front end of a ship is known as `the sharp end'.
See also: end, sharp

a short, sharp shock

A short, sharp shock is a punishment that is severe but only lasts for a short time. Many parents believe that a short sharp shock is at times necessary for naughty children.
See also: sharp, shock

all sharped up

mod. dressed up; looking sharp. Chuckie, my man, you are totally sharped up.
See also: all, sharp, up


1. mod. clever; intelligent. She’s sharp enough to see right through everything you say.
2. mod. good-looking; well-dressed. That’s a sharp set of wheels you got there.
References in periodicals archive ?
The company's premier product is known as Sharps Disposal By Mail System(TM), a mail-back sharps container system that services alternate site healthcare, hospitality and other industrial markets.
Through the years, Sharp helped launch the Process Control, Electrical and Instrumentation Division, served as inaugural chairman of TAPPI's Information Technology Committee, chaired the Technical Operations Council, and led the technical program development for the 1990 TAPPI Engineering Division Conference that had a record attendance of 1426 registrants and 440 exhibitors.
The Company is the exclusive supplier of Sharps Disposal by Mail Systems[R] to the Consumer Health Care division of Becton, Dickinson and Company.
Kunik, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Company stated, "We applaud bill sponsor California Senator Figueroa for successfully addressing the proper disposal of sharps in an effort to protect California residents and communities.
This action by the USPS does not apply to Sharps and in no way affects any postal authorizations or the business operations of Sharps.
Since jewelry was invented thousands of years ago, customization has been a way of life," said Mark Romano, Marketing Director at Sharp Systems of America.
The presentation will be delivered by Kevin Wells, application engineer at Sharp Microelectronics of the Americas, followed by a discussion period moderated by Peter Glaskowsky, Vice President of System Architecture for MemoryLogix.
By collaborating with Sharp, PACE further expands its expertise in media delivery solutions for mobile devices into the portable multimedia application niche.
The LH79524 and LH79525 offer improved integration by providing a variety of features that were only previously available on more expensive ARM9 devices," said Christophe Chene, Senior Director of IC Marketing, Sharp Microelectronics of the Americas.
Sharp's commitment to innovation is apparent in the design of the Actius MC24, but also apparent is Sharp's commitment to price innovation," said Terry Hanly, product manager for Sharp Systems of America.
Sharp Microelectronics continues to collaborate with Fisher-Price on future design projects, delivering new performance enhancements that help Fisher-Price meet the growing demands for video capabilities in the rapidly expanding multimedia toy market.
Drawing on Sharp's library of software tools and its collaboration with Sharp Microelectronics engineers, MonRoi's designers realized the full benefits of Sharp's hardware components, including the ARM7-based 16/32-bit LH75411 SoC, part of Sharp's BlueStreak(TM) family of SoCs.
Anticipating the growing market demand for increased media performance, Sharp Microelectronics has leveraged its IC expertise with Actimagine's software technology to deliver advanced performance solutions for video device designs.
It's an incredible honor to be recognized for having one of the ten best notebooks of the year by LAPTOP Magazine," said Terry Hanly, product marketing manager for Sharp Systems of America.
This is the lightweight notebook you've been waiting for," writes LAPTOP magazine about the Sharp M4000 WideNote.