Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective \ˈsmärt\

Simple Definition of smart

  • : very good at learning or thinking about things

  • : showing intelligence or good judgment

  • : behaving or talking in a rude or impolite way : showing a lack of respect for someone

Full Definition of smart

  1. 1 :  making one smart :  causing a sharp stinging

  2. 2 :  marked by often sharp forceful activity or vigorous strength <a smart pull of the starter cord>

  3. 3 :  brisk, spirited <a smart pace>

  4. 4a :  mentally alert :  brightb :  knowledgeablec :  shrewd <a smart investment>

  5. 5a :  witty, clever <a smart sitcom>b :  pert, saucy <don't get smart with me>

  6. 6a :  neat, trim <soldiers in smart uniforms>b :  stylish or elegant in dress or appearancec (1) :  appealing to sophisticated tastes (2) :  characteristic of or patronized by fashionable society

  7. 7a :  being a guided missile <a laser-guided smart bomb>b :  operating by automation <a smart machine tool>c :  intelligent 3

smart·ly adverb
smart·ness noun

Examples of smart

  1. Poodles are said to be smart dogs.

  2. That was a smart investment.

  3. He gave her a smart answer.

Origin of smart

Middle English smert causing pain, from Old English smeart; akin to Old English smeortan

First Known Use: before 12th century

Rhymes with smart



intransitive verb

Simple Definition of smart

  • : to feel a sudden sharp pain

  • : to be upset about something

Full Definition of smart

  1. 1 :  to cause or be the cause or seat of a sharp stinging pain; also :  to feel or have such a pain

  2. 2a :  to feel or endure distress, remorse, or embarrassment <smarting from wounded vanity — W. L. Shirer>b :  to pay a heavy or stinging penalty <would have to smart for this foolishness>

Examples of smart

  1. Her eyes were smarting from the smoke.

  2. <the injection only smarted for a moment>

Origin of smart

Middle English smerten, from Old English smeortan; akin to Old High German smerzan to pain

First Known Use: 13th century




Definition of smart

  1. 1 :  a smarting pain; especially :  a stinging local pain

  2. 2 :  poignant grief or remorse <was not the sort to get over smarts — Sir Winston Churchill>

  3. 3 plural slang :  intelligence, know-how

Examples of smart

  1. <the toddler was whining over the smart from the cut>

  2. <she had the smarts to start college at age 16, but perhaps not the emotional maturity>

13th Century

First Known Use of smart

13th century




Simple Definition of smart

  • : in a smart way

Full Definition of smart

  1. :  in a smart manner :  smartly

Examples of smart

  1. He plays smart and the fans appreciate that.

  2. I dress smarter than she does.

  3. Play it smart during the contract negotiations and you'll get more vacation time.

13th Century

First Known Use of smart

13th century

Medical Dictionary


intransitive verb \ˈsmärt\

Medical Definition of smart

  1. :  to cause or be the cause or seat of a sharp poignant pain <rapid fatigue with burning and smarting of the conjunctiva—H. G. Armstrong>; also :  to feel or have such a pain

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up smart? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

196.5 pounds 2.2 pounds 16.96 pounds 100 pounds
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.