\ 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 smilingly (audio) \ adverb


smileless \ ˈsmī(-​ə)l-​ləs How to pronounce smileless (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 Even after one of the worst stock-market debuts in more than a decade, two 30-year-old founders of SmileDirectClub Inc. still have plenty to smile about. Sophie Alexander, Fortune, "SmileDirectClub’s 30-Year-Old Founders Still Have Reason to Smile After Rocky IPO: They’re Billionaires," 13 Sep. 2019 In the factory’s small cafeteria hangs a picture of Forman’s father at work in the 1960s proudly holding up a prime filet as three employees smile for the camera. Cnaan Liphshiz,, "A Brexit Party politician owns London’s oldest smoked salmon factory," 11 Sep. 2019 Cullan Brown, a standout golfer at Kentucky who is battling bone cancer, sill finds a way to make people smile. Beth Ann Nichols, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky golfer Cullan Brown is fighting bone cancer, and joy is his 'secret weapon'," 10 Sep. 2019 Then light a candle and get ready for smiles all around at this cat's meow. Joan Lang, Woman's Day, "Friendly Feline Pumpkin," 5 Sep. 2019 The season 1 finale also gave OG Sons of Anarchy fans a reunion with SAMCRO’s Happy (David Labrava), but the reunion is nothing to smile about. Rosy Cordero,, "Everything to remember from Mayans M.C. before its season 2 premiere," 3 Sep. 2019 An innocent part of him really does just want to follow his mother's guidance and make people smile. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Joker': Film Review | Venice 2019," 31 Aug. 2019 One image showed the two as toddlers, smiling in matching striped shirts. Marina Starleaf Riker,, "San Antonio’s favorite twins ring in 45th birthday," 16 Sep. 2019 And about five or so faces into that roster — not so prominent as to draw immediate attention, not so buried as to suggest deliberate camouflage — voters were greeted by a smiling mayor. Matt Flegenheimer, New York Times, "Kamala Harris Was Ready to Brawl From the Beginning," 15 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There was the smile that filled rooms, melting away any hesitation about the intimidating frame. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Painful lesson of late Jake Palet: Helping, hurting can go hand-in-hand," 16 Sep. 2019 The nervous smile emoji, meanwhile, is transformed into a creepy overstretched face straight out of the Uncanny Valley. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "AI Turns Harmless Emojis Into Horrible Nightmares," 28 Aug. 2019 Using toothpick, draw smile and scars on face. Draw texture lines on hair. Megan Fulweiler, Woman's Day, "Frankenstein Clay Decoration," 9 Sep. 2019 With a megawatt smile and glowing complexion, Hunt is truly ready for anything. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "How Martha Hunt Transforms Her Daytime Glow into Night-Out Glam," 4 Sep. 2019 Or, throw on a pair of dad jeans, a '90s sweater and a knowing smile and go as everyone's favorite TV dad, Danny Tanner. Tierney Mcafee, Country Living, "Need a 'Full House' Costume Idea for Halloween? You Got It, Dude!," 31 Aug. 2019 Slade, a 92-year-old with a friendly smile and warm handshake, officially retired this football season. Ben Thomas |, al, "After 46 years and countless football games, Francis “F.A.” Slade says goodbye to Ladd-Peebles," 30 Aug. 2019 In exchange for that $30 million annual compensation, Federer—who, to his immense credit, always seems present and never perturbed by his off-court obligations—will make an appearance at a Uniqlo store, put on a smile and sign a few things. Daniel Rapaport,, "TennisCon: An Inside Look Into the Frenetic Week Before the U.S. Open," 28 Aug. 2019 Even if someone isn't in the best of moods, a warm smile and a friendly, helpful attitude can thaw out even the coldest reception. Tribune Content Agency,, "Horoscope for Aug. 26, 2019: Cancer, be a sudden ray of sunshine; Aquarius, focus on clear communication," 26 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for smile

Last Updated

30 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for smile

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

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More Definitions for smile


How to pronounce smile (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on smile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for smile

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with smile

Spanish Central: Translation of smile

Nglish: Translation of smile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of smile for Arabic Speakers

Comments on smile

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


to spread as a report or rumor

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