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From Middle English sharply, scharply, from Old English sċearplīċe (sharply, smartly), equivalent to sharp +‎ -ly.



sharply (comparative sharplier or more sharply, superlative sharpliest or most sharply)

  1. In a sharp manner.
    • 2011 November 11, Rory Houston, “Estonia 0-4 Republic of Ireland”, in RTE Sport[1]:
      Walters tried a long range shot in the third minute as he opened the game sharply, linking well with Robbie Keane, but goalkeeper Sergei Pareiko gathered the ball with ease.
    • 2023 November 15, Paul Clifton, “Early responses to Scottish fares trial”, in RAIL, number 996, pages 44-45:
      Hynes is careful to direct the credit to his paymasters in the Scottish Government, whose ambitions for rail contrast increasingly sharply with those in Westminster.
  2. (to describe breathing) Suddenly and intensely like a gasp, but typically as the result of an emotional reaction.
  3. In an intellectually alert and penetrating manner.
    • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 1, in The Cuckoo in the Nest[2]:
      Peter, after the manner of man at the breakfast table, had allowed half his kedgeree to get cold and was sniggering over a letter. Sophia looked at him sharply. The only letter she had received was from her mother. Sophia's mother was not a humourist.
  4. Severely.
    • 2013 June 18, Simon Romero, “Protests Widen as Brazilians Chide Leaders”, in New York Times, retrieved 21 June 2013:
      The economy has slowed to a pale shadow of its growth in recent years; inflation is high, the currency is declining sharply against the dollar — but the expectations of Brazilians have rarely been higher, feeding broad intolerance with corruption, bad schools and other government failings.
  5. Of speech, delivered in a stern or harsh tone.
    • 1956 [1880], Johanna Spyri, Heidi, translation of original by Eileen Hall, page 99:
      Before long Tinette stuck her head round the door, and said sharply, 'You're to go to the study.'