\ 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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Pop stars should not be expected to smile, as general churlishness is part of the job description. Joe Queenan, WSJ, 11 Aug. 2022 Jenner's 4-year-old daughter Stormi also made a cameo, snuggling up with her mom to smile for the camera. Alexis Jones, Peoplemag, 11 Aug. 2022 The humidity doesn’t make anyone smile, but Brady seems perturbed about recent events — the tampering that led to the loss of a first-round pick for the Dolphins, and the state of the Bucs. Ben Volin,, 10 Aug. 2022 My advice is to smile and continue babysitting your grandchild until preschool starts. Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, 10 Aug. 2022 We are reminded to take the time to smile, to bring happiness to others as well as to ourselves. Harvey Mackay, The Arizona Republic, 9 Aug. 2022 Artist Maylani Siemasz, while working on a Lady and the Tramp chalk drawing, said making people smile is the best part of being an artist. Donovan Fobbs, Detroit Free Press, 17 July 2022 Create content that makes people smile, teaches them something new or drives inspiration. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 16 May 2022 Danny, a young man refusing to smile against marble-blue backdrop, stands behind his father, whose suit looks crisp, especially his tie, which somehow accommodates a map of Korea. Los Angeles Times, 26 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Thirty minutes into the Chicago Bears’ first news conference of training camp Tuesday, Ryan Poles’ serious facade cracked into a smile and a laugh when a reporter suggested the general manager surely must be more excited than his expression showed. Colleen Kane, Chicago Tribune, 26 July 2022 Koke Vegas broke into a smile, shook hands with a reporter and offered what appeared to be a sigh of relief. Ivan Carter, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 July 2022 Ohtani broke into a smile and rushed back to the American League bench with his helmet in hand. Dylan Hernández, Los Angeles Times, 19 July 2022 Queen Elizabeth had a smile on her face nearly the entire event. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 30 June 2022 Leon, 26, has a big smile on their face in their post, which features a couple of pictures of themselves and gives more insight into their coming-out story. Shafiq Najib,, 28 June 2022 When Silver called his name, Holmgren broke out into a wide smile, stopping for handshakes and long embraces with his family members. New York Times, 23 June 2022 Tucker could be seen standing behind Hall and broke into a smile. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, 20 June 2022 Hough said, stretching her bright-red lips into a pained smile, after their opening number, a schmaltzy ditty written by Criss. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, 13 June 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near smile



smile from ear to ear

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Last Updated

15 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Smile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for smile


\ 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

Nglish: Translation of smile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of smile for Arabic Speakers


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