hone in on the target at hand / home in on

joh2001smile

Senior Member
Chinese
"We" are a small communication company of much smaller size than Hughes, one of their arch rivals which they have to deal with with all their might.
Does this mean the entire company tries to improve their performance a little in order to close the gap between them and their rival?
Context:
We focused on the small-dish market in which we boasted a superior range of products, a complete product line, reliability, and a lower price. Our entire company would hone in on the target at hand and wage heroic battles to capture the high ground.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Hone in on' means "focus on, concentrate on, aim at": they focused on one target/aim ('the target at hand' = "the nearest target"), and solved that problem, then moved on to the next target. These 'battles' gradually captured 'ground' in the war with their rival.

    'Hone in on' originated as a mixture of two phrases. A homing pigeon is a pigeon that knows how to fly home. Then the verb 'home' was applied to guided missiles: they home in (come closer), on (towards) a target. An entirely separate word is 'hone', which means "sharpen" (e.g. a knife on a stone), and metaphorically we hone our skills - make them sharper, finer, get closer to the ideal. So 'hone in on' is the meaning of 'home in on' but with the added sense of 'hone' = "sharpen (skills)".
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    'Hone in on' means "focus on, concentrate on, aim at": they focused on one target/aim ('the target at hand' = "the nearest target"), and solved that problem, then moved on to the next target. These 'battles' gradually captured 'ground' in the war with their rival.

    'Hone in on' originated as a mixture of two phrases. A homing pigeon is a pigeon that knows how to fly home. Then the verb 'home' was applied to guided missiles: they home in (come closer), on (towards) a target. An entirely separate word is 'hone', which means "sharpen" (e.g. a knife on a stone), and metaphorically we hone our skills - make them sharper, finer, get closer to the ideal. So 'hone in on' is the meaning of 'home in on' but with the added sense of 'hone' = "sharpen (skills)".
    This is what Merriam-Webster says: [my emphasis]
    The few commentators who have noticed hone in consider it to be a mistake for home in. It may have arisen from home in by the weakening of the \m\ sound to \n\ or may perhaps simply be due to the influence of hone. Though it seems to have established itself in American English (and mention in a British usage book suggests it is used in British English too), your use of it especially in writing is likely to be called a mistake. Home in or in figurative use zero in does nicely.
     

    Annakrutitskaya

    Senior Member
    Russian
    'Hone in on' means "focus on, concentrate on, aim at": they focused on one target/aim ('the target at hand' = "the nearest target"), and solved that problem, then moved on to the next target. These 'battles' gradually captured 'ground' in the war with their rival.

    'Hone in on' originated as a mixture of two phrases. A homing pigeon is a pigeon that knows how to fly home. Then the verb 'home' was applied to guided missiles: they home in (come closer), on (towards) a target. An entirely separate word is 'hone', which means "sharpen" (e.g. a knife on a stone), and metaphorically we hone our skills - make them sharper, finer, get closer to the ideal. So 'hone in on' is the meaning of 'home in on' but with the added sense of 'hone' = "sharpen (skills)".
    I see that it's an old thread, but, @entangledbank, thank you very much for this helpful and great explanation.
     
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