Idioms are a weird part of the English language. They say things that they don’t actually say. And for some of us, knowing what idioms actually mean can cause a bit of confusion. But, things get even weirder when one idiom has more than one meaning.
Today, we’ll look at what “looking sharp” means. There are two main definitions of this idiom. We’ll look at each of them, as well as the multiple definitions of “sharp”.
“Looking sharp” meaning
“Looking Sharp” is a compliment given to men. Meaning that they are well dressed and adequately groomed.
Also, to “look sharp” means to act quickly.
“Looking sharp” means well dressed
The first definition of “looking sharp” is well dressed.
When you want to compliment a woman, you could call her beautiful, pretty, etc. But when you want to compliment a man, by telling him that he looks sharp, you’re saying that he is wearing clothes that make him look powerful and successful.
There is some debate as to what men have to wear to “look sharp”. Some say that to “look sharp”, a man should wear a suit. But others argue that you can “look sharp” whilst wearing a tracksuit.
A sharply dressed man wears high-quality clothes which fit him perfectly.
“Looking sharp” is given to men by men
What’s rather interesting about “looking sharp” is that it’s a compliment usually given to men by other men.
And just to stop any doubt, no telling a man that he “looks sharp” is not “gay”.
Men complimenting other men perhaps ought to become more normalised than it is. Women are always being nice to one another. Yet, for some reason, a lot of men feel weird about being nice to one another.
If men could be more complementary to one another, it could help break down the stigma around men and their mental health.
“Looking sharp” means acting quickly
There is another definition of “looking sharp”. Which is based around the saying “look sharp”, meaning to act quickly.
If you are acting quickly, I might say that you are “looking sharp”. For example, I might say, “He was always looking sharp whenever there was an emergency”.
The phrase “look sharp” started in the 1700s, although it wasn’t until the 1800s that it came to take on its current meaning. Today, it’s common for most army films to feature a general saying “look sharp” to a soldier.
Generally, however, when “look sharp” means act quick, you’re not as likely to hear it as “looking sharp”.
“Looking sharp” means well… looking like it’s sharp
There is one more definition of “looking sharp”, which is not really an idiom. And that is when you mean it literally. When something gives the appearance of sharpness.
For example, if you’re talking about a knife, and you’re describing how it looks. I might say something along the lines of “This knife is looking sharp. So I’ll be careful not to cut myself”.
Although this particular definition is not an idiom, I still wanted to talk about it. It shows that the phrase “looking sharp” has not just one but three different meanings.
The multiple definitions of “Sharp”
The word “sharp” is a vast one. Here are some more ways you could use it.
Strong- I felt a sharp pain in my leg.
Exactly- Be there at 3pm sharp.
Bitter- The apple had a sharp but sweet taste.
Nasty- She had some sharp words to say.
Sudden- There was a sharp burst of light.
The word “sharp” is broader than many initially think. Sharp does not just mean pointy. I find it interesting how one word can have so many different meanings.
8 examples of “Looking sharp”
“To make things easy, let’s just go through them one by one and see what we have: On looking sharp: They always tell you to look your best and look sharp. But what does that mean in your workplace?”
“We used to dress-up to go out. Suit and tie looking sharp.”
“It would probably be the wrong thing to say, as though looking sharp was so unusual as to call for comment.
“Remember that looking sharp will make you feel better about yourself, which will enhance your self-confidence and thus your likelihood of closing a sale. In addition to looking sharp, you should be mentally sharp.”
“Keep Your Nails Looking Sharp leave-ins, meaning that you work them into your hair after it has been shampooed but while it’s still wet.”
“Sure enough, I could see the doctor wasn’t taking him off – hand, as was his use with us prisoners, but was chafing his fingers between his palms in a stubby, uncomfortable way, and looking sharp and dry like a bitten dog. ”
“And once you’ve started a job, it’s important to maintain a reputation of looking sharp on a daily basis.”
“Sometimes, of course, you may think looking sharp is more important than being as legible as possible, and that’s cool.”
“Looking sharp” synonyms
Now, let’s look at some of the alternatives to “looking sharp”.
- Looking dressy
- dressed to kill
- looking formal
- dressed to the nines
- looking classy
- in high feather
- looking elaborate
- dressed up
- looking smart
- looking elegant
- with it
- looking stylish
- looking Schmick
- getting cracking
- getting your skates on
- hurrying up
- rattling your dags
- getting moving
- pulling your finger out
- getting weaving
- getting a wiggle on
- looking lively
- getting on with it
- getting a move on
- shaking a leg
And if you’ve ever wondered what “looking sharp”means, now you know.
It can help men to be well dressed. To be acting quickly. Or to have the appearance of sharpness.
That’s one phrase with three definitions.
Most idioms in English are a bit weird. But when one has three different definitions, that can make it even stranger. However, hopefully, now you have a better idea of what it means. And knowing which version of the phrase the speaker means is most often easy. It would be weird for someone to tell you “acting quickly”when you’re wearing a suit.
English is a bit of an odd language. And for non-native speakers, the English classroom only teaches part of how to speak the language. But hopefully, now, you have a slightly better idea.