\ ˈsmī(-ə)l How to pronounce smile (audio) \
smiled; smiling

Definition of smile

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to have, produce, or exhibit a smile
2a : to look or regard with amusement or ridicule smiled at his own folly— Martin Gardner
b : to bestow approval feeling that Heaven smiled on his labors— Sheila Rowlands
c : to appear pleasant or agreeable

transitive verb

1 : to affect with or by smiling
2 : to express by a smile



Definition of smile (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a facial expression in which the eyes brighten and the corners of the mouth curve slightly upward and which expresses especially amusement, pleasure, approval, or sometimes scorn
2 : a pleasant or encouraging appearance

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Other Words from smile


smiler noun
smilingly \ ˈsmī-​liŋ-​lē How to pronounce smile (audio) \ adverb


smileless \ ˈsmī(-​ə)l-​ləs How to pronounce smile (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for smile

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of smile in a Sentence

Verb The photographer asked us to smile for the camera. She smiled when she saw him. Both parents smiled their approval. Noun He greeted me with a big smile.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Do that activity for at least 10 minutes a day and watch your soul smile. Rolling Stone Culture Council, Rolling Stone, "15 Activities to Help You De-Stress and Avoid Burnout in the Modern World," 7 May 2021 While Cancering, which partners with 20 hospitals to deliver backpacks filled with gifts like maracas and wall decals intended to help tiny patients smile. Alison Bowen,, "‘You know nothing other than it is either success or failure.’ Parents of kids with cancer plead for research as kids fight rare cancers with treatments intended for adults.," 6 May 2021 Hydro Cool Firming Face Gels, which can be used to smooth forehead furrows and smile lines. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "The Best Skin Care for Women Over 50, According to Industry Pros," 3 May 2021 For Doritha Greene, of Fort Lauderdale, seeing her four kids smile and have more self-confidence has been a blessing. Jennifer Shapiro-sacks,, "Non-profit Bowtie Kids helps children with chronic pain," 28 Apr. 2021 The 8x8 hardcover book with 20 pages for $22.50 is the perfect way to relive your favorite travel memories and will allow mom to laugh, cry, and smile. Jordi Lippe-mcgraw, Forbes, "Mother's Day Gift Guide: The Most Sentimental Travel Gifts For Mom," 27 Apr. 2021 Here is where longtime Dobbs’ fans smile remembering his on-air wardrobe. Lee Roop |, al, "Alabama forecaster Gary Dobbs got the ride of his life from an F-5 tornado on April 27, 2011," 27 Apr. 2021 Florian Zeller gave thanks in Paris while his fellow-winner, Christopher Hampton, positioned at the British Film Institute, in London, had to stand up, smile in gentle gratitude, and sit down. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "The Highs and Lows of the Pandemic Oscars," 26 Apr. 2021 The contest’s outcome surprises all the men in town, but the ladies (and our observant protagonist, Homer) just smile knowingly. Sarah Schutte, National Review, "Make Way for Robert McCloskey," 25 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The 6-foot-2, 213 pounder, whose curve ball is his signature pitch, is often seen with a smile on his face. Dom Amore,, "Hartford Yard Goats ace Ryan Rolison carries the pressure of a Colorado Rockies’ No. 1 draft pick gracefully," 5 May 2021 The picture is of a pastor in Tuckerman sitting on his front porch bench with a wry smile on his face. Arkansas Online, "Love thy neighbor," 1 May 2021 Well, Scott came in with a great big smile on his face, laughing. Jonathan Vigliotti, CBS News, "Will Scott Peterson, convicted of killing wife Laci and unborn child, get a new trial?," 1 May 2021 The initial TikTok video that sent the story viral shows Johnson following Stevens closely with a smile on his face. Rachel Desantis,, "Tenn. CEO Fired After Calling Teen Boy Who Wore Dress to Prom an 'Idiot' in Viral Video," 28 Apr. 2021 As the Angels poured out of the dugout to mob Walsh at home plate, Ohtani came jogging out right along with them, splashing a water bottle all over his teammates with a smile on his face. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, "Angels say Shohei Ohtani is ‘fine’ after home-plate collision in walk-off win," 4 Apr. 2021 Kyle tries to give a polite answer, but Fessy, with a big smile on his face, rats out Kyle for just wanting to dump Aneesa. Kyndall Cunningham, Vulture, "The Challenge: Double Agents Recap: The Plot Against Aneesa," 25 Mar. 2021 When Doudna and Charpentier won the Nobel Prize, a little vision flickered into my mind of Franklin with a tight but satisfied smile on her face. Megan Molteni, Wired, "The Code Breaker Is the Crispr Chronicle You Need to Read," 9 Mar. 2021 And Durant has been in street clothes looking on with a smile on his face because this team is stacked and ready for a title run. Andy Nesbitt, USA TODAY, "The Nets are what we thought they'd be - ridiculous," 4 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'smile.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of smile


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for smile


Middle English smilen, going back to a Germanic verbal base *smil-, *smīl- (from earlier *smei̯l-) "smile," probably an extension with -l- of Indo-European *smei̯- "laugh, smile," whence Old Church Slavic smějǫ sę, smijati sę "to laugh," Latvian smeju, smiêt "to laugh, mock," Tocharian B smi- "smile," Sanskrit smáyate "(s/he) smiles," and with a -d- extension in Greek meidiáein "to smile," philomeidḗs "with a friendly smile," Latvian smaida "smile," smaidît "to smile, mock"

Note: The comparative set for this Germanic etymon do not show clear descent from a single form, perhaps due to its affective character. There is no attested Old English ancestor of Middle English smilen; a Scandinavian source has been suggested, but Danish smile "to smile" and Swedish smila, not attested before the 17th century, could be loans from an unattested Middle Low German verb. Old High German has smilenter (glossing Latin subridens "smiling"), with presumed long vowel, continued by Middle High German smielen. Kiliaen's 1599 Dutch dictionary enters smuylen "subridere," apparently with a different vocalism. Parallel to these are a group of forms with -r- rather than -l-: Old English smerian "to laugh, scorn," Old High German smierēn, smierōn (with e2?) "to smile," Old English bismerian and Old High German bismerōn "to mock, insult," and, with different vocalism, Old English smǣr, smǣre "lip(s)," gālsmǣre "inclined to laugh, frivolous." The forms with -r- have been compared with Sanskrit (Vedic) á-smera- "not bashful, confiding," and particularly with Latin mīrus "remarkable, amazing," presumed to be derivative of a neuter *mīrum, going back to a noun *smei̯-ro- "laughter, smiling," (though a semantic shift from "laughter" to "astonishment" is questionable).


Middle English smyle, derivative of smilen "to smile entry 1"

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Time Traveler for smile

Time Traveler

The first known use of smile was in the 14th century

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Statistics for smile

Last Updated

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Smile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for smile



English Language Learners Definition of smile

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to make a smile : to make the corners of your mouth turn up in an expression that shows happiness, amusement, pleasure, affection, etc.
: to show or express (something, such as approval, encouragement, etc.) by a smile
: to say (something) with a smile



English Language Learners Definition of smile (Entry 2 of 2)

: an expression on your face that makes the corners of your mouth turn up and that shows happiness, amusement, pleasure, affection, etc.


\ ˈsmīl How to pronounce smile (audio) \
smiled; smiling

Kids Definition of smile

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : make the corners of the mouth turn up in an expression of amusement or pleasure
2 : to look with amusement or pleasure She smiled at the picture.
3 : to express by a smile Both parents smiled approval.



Kids Definition of smile (Entry 2 of 2)

: an expression in which the corners of the mouth turn upward especially to show amusement or pleasure

More from Merriam-Webster on smile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for smile

Nglish: Translation of smile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of smile for Arabic Speakers

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