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The bulk of local taxes come from school costs, and while they may sharpen their pencil to hold down expenses, a four or five percent increase in six or
http://boothbayregister.maine.com/2001-08-09/editorials.html


What's the meaning of sharpen their pencil? I heard pentagon official use it figuratively.

Thanks.
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I believe 'sharpen your pencil' is an American term, and has something to do with trying to get a better deal.

We need our friends from the US to give us the precise meaning.
One idiom means to have sex (CLEARLY not the meaning here).

If you wanted to do a lot of calculations to try to figure out where to save money, before the days of computer, you'd need a sharp pencil and an eraser. So perhaps the writer was saying that they need to buckle down and figure out where the savings can come from. It's not really an idiom that way.

It's also possible it was being used as a figure of speech at all - they'll save money in little ways, doing things like using pencils down to the nub rather than using a new one.

I've never heard it used to mean "get a better deal."
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If you wanted to do a lot of calculations to try to figure out where to save money

This is exactly what it meant. I heard it used in a budget hearing.
Thanks, GG!
>they may sharpen their pencil to hold down expenses
<>they may do some serious preliminary work/preparation in order to ...
<>or
<>they may get to some details (requiring a sharp pencil) in order <>to ....
Not that it really matters to this discussion, but Boothbay is about 10 miles from where I used to live.
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How far is it from where you're going to live?
Emotion: big smile
CJ
Why the present continuous? Is GG moving?
CalifJimHow far is it from where you're going to live?
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