Definition of smarmy
- smarmy eroticism
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These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'smarmy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Something smarmy will often ooze with self-satisfaction and insincerity. Much like its synonyms unctuous and slick, smarmy has a history that starts with a meaning of literal slipperiness or oiliness. The verb smarm appeared in English in the mid-19th century. Etymologists don't know where it came from, but they do know that it meant "to smear," "to gush," or sometimes "to make smooth or oily." A few decades later, the use of smarm was extended to sometimes mean "to use flattery." The adjective smarmy appeared in the early 20th century. At first meaning "insincerely flattering" or "smug," it later took on an additional meaning: "sleazy."
First Known Use: 1924See Words from the same year
: behaving in a way that seems polite, kind, or pleasing but is not genuine or believable
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