This is a context from an English translation of "Crime And Punishment" by Dostoevsky

"In the passage the idea had occurred to him to keep on his overcoat and walk away, and so give the two ladies a sharp and emphatic lesson and make them feel the gravity of the position."

The only answer i could find about this expression was on HiNative forum. One of the users said: ""sharp" can be used as an adverb - meaning precise, sudden or abrupt. It's not commonly used in this expression in the U.S., but the person who posted may be from the U.K."

But this answer isn't satisfactory to me as "sudden" and "abrupt" are adjectives(TFD source below) 5. sudden, marked, abrupt, extreme, distinct There's been a sharp rise in the rate of inflation.

Can anyone explain what sharp means in this context and what part of speech it is as well as give a suitable synonym for it? TomHanks eghr...I mean thanks in advance:)

1 Answer 1


It is an adjective modifying the noun "lesson".

Yes: "precise", "sudden", or "abrupt" all are good synonyms for "sharp" here. I would say this is indeed used in the United States to some extent.

To me it also connotes cutting or piercing, almost as a metaphor, in the sense that the lesson may be a bit painful, harsh, or difficult to accept.

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