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sim·​per ˈsim-pər How to pronounce simper (audio)
simpered; simpering ˈsim-p(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce simper (audio) ; simpers

intransitive verb

: to smile in a silly, affected, or ingratiating manner
Through force of will, she escaped the narrowness of Victorian daughterhood, the polite world of needlework and simpering over teacups that had always bored her.Matthew Dennison
… in September, … Pee-wee made a surprise appearance to open the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. Wide-eyed and simpering, this target of a thousand barbs asked innocently, "Heard any good jokes lately?" The audience roared—and rose to its feet, cheering.People Weekly
Or did he really mean that she should simper sweetly to get her way or, alternatively, give in gracefully to whatever the men in cabinet wanted—and then face the inevitable criticism that she was ineffectual and proof that women couldn't lead?Janine Haines

transitive verb

: to say with a simper
simpered an apology
simperer noun
plural simperers


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plural simpers
: a silly, affected, or ingratiating smile
"I'm sure I must have misunderstood you, Professor Dumbledore," she said with a simper that left her big, round eyes as cold as ever.J. K. Rowling
Both stars are superb; adorable yet dangerous, these heroines for our times learn to handle things with a resounding bang, not a girlish simper.Eleanor Ringel

Examples of simper in a Sentence

Verb He simpered and smirked while he talked to the boss. She simpered that she had gone to all this trouble for a reason.
Recent Examples on the Web
And Grant has made something of a second career out of playing charmingly louche rogues of late, smiling and simpering to perfection as the greedy backstabbing Forge. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 31 Mar. 2023 Didn’t want to be a part of that simpering sorority, a keeper of that shameful secret (for so it was considered at the time), that failure. Alice McDermott, Harper's Magazine, 11 Sep. 2023 But Parker always meant to play the quietly cunning Southern belle as anything but simpering, describing the elder DuBois sister as a mental poker player. Helena Andrews-Dyer, Washington Post, 23 June 2023 Seated at a ceremonial desk in an airplane hangar, doling out portions of his kingdom to simpering Goneril (Gilmore) and Regan (Lane), this Lear wears the infuriating smirk of a glutton for praise. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 3 Mar. 2023 Judging by his simpering public appearances with Putin -- including one where Trump dissed his own US intelligence agencies -- these calls would be fascinating. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 16 Oct. 2019 In recent seasons, Philip has retreated from the world of derring-do, embracing instead a simpering self-help doctrine emblematic of the era, while Elizabeth has turned into an ever more remorseless assassin. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, 7 Mar. 2017 Lastly, Colman does beleaguered, long-suffering wife like a champ, turning what could be simpering roles into simmering ones. Vogue, 29 Oct. 2017 This story of bumbling boors, chiseling social climbers, and simpering fops gallivanting and scheming around the London countryside is crisply performed by a uniformly excellent cast. Steve Heisler, Chicago Reader, 10 July 2017
Today’s announcement marks the emergence of a new GE, a high-tech industrial GE — simper, stronger, a more focused company at the core. Jon Chesto,, 26 June 2018 Al Capone lived as a schoolyard bully, died in a simper with a brain et by syphilis, and lives on through eternity as a cigarillo mascot and gimme film role for dark-haired white actors who want a chance to really chew some scenery. Paul Dailing, Chicago Reader, 21 Dec. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'simper.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



akin to Middle Dutch zimperlijc elegant, Danish dialect simper affected, coy

First Known Use


1562, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1606, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of simper was in 1562

Dictionary Entries Near simper

Cite this Entry

“Simper.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
sim·​per ˈsim-pər How to pronounce simper (audio)
simpered; simpering -p(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce simper (audio)
: to smile in a foolish manner
fans simpering at the star
: to say with a simper
simpered an apology
simperer noun


2 of 2 noun
: a silly smile

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