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


adjective \ˈsməg\

Simple Definition of smug

  • : having or showing the annoying quality of people who feel very pleased or satisfied with their abilities, achievements, etc.

Full Definition of smug


  1. 1 :  trim or smart in dress :  spruce

  2. 2 :  scrupulously clean, neat, or correct :  tidy

  3. 3 :  highly self-satisfied

smug·ly adverb
smug·ness noun

Examples of smug

  1. Meanwhile, supporters are smug and righteous that the person who manages the world's leading stock exchange deserves every million. —Susan Lee, Wall Street Journal, 10 Sept. 2003

  2. Alice Norcross Pratt, a local stay-at-home mom, is portrayed as smug and pious, yet we also see glimmers of her hidden longings. —Elizabeth Graver, New York Times Book Review, 27 May 2001

  3. Once, Roy dared shooters to beat him with a shot between his legs. Now, he no longer passes out such smug invitations. The goalie who transformed the butterfly technique into an art form has humbly decided to keep his skates a little closer together … —Mark Kiszla, ESPN, 28 May 2001

  4. She was tall and beautiful and multilingual and fiercely opinionated. One of her opinions held that the rags that passed for literary magazines on campus were so smug and tame and insular that it was hopeless to even try to reform them; they simply needed to be replaced. —Tom Perrotta, Joe College, 2000

  5. It's OK to celebrate your success, but try not to be too smug about it.

  6. You can wipe that smug look off your face.

Origin of smug

probably modification of Low German smuck neat, from Middle Low German, from smucken to dress; akin to Old English smoc smock

First Known Use: 1551

Rhymes with smug

Seen and Heard

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


February 11, 2016

the holder of an office

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 16.96 pounds 100 pounds 2.2 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.