\ˈsmī(-ə)l \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from smile


smiler noun
smilingly \ˈsmī-liŋ-lē \ adverb


smileless \ˈsmī(-ə)l-ləs \ adjective

Synonyms for smile

Synonyms: Verb

laugh, sneer, snicker, snigger

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of smile in a Sentence


The photographer asked us to smile for the camera. She smiled when she saw him. Both parents smiled their approval.


He greeted me with a big smile.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

All Irish eyes were smiling on Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan Wednesday as the royal couple launched a day of colorful engagements in Dublin during their first foreign trip together since their May wedding. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry sample Dublin's charms in Ireland visit," 11 July 2018 Rob Pelinka is smiling, with his right arm around James’ shoulder, finally able to acknowledge his first home run. Tania Ganguli,, "It's official: LeBron James signs $153.3-million contract with Lakers," 10 July 2018 The Republican, who was first elected to the chamber in 2016, was smiling in the picture., "GOP State Representative Who Implied She Could Shoot Peaceful Protesters Is Running Unchallenged," 29 June 2018 William posed at the same exact spot seen here in this Middleton family photo: In the Middleton family photo taken at the historic site, a young Kate smiles with Michael Middleton and her sister, Pippa. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "Prince William Just Recreated One of Kate Middleton's Sweet Childhood Photos in Jordan," 25 June 2018 In black and white, Avendano is smiling, washing pepper spray from his eyes with milk. Thomas Fox Parry, The Atlantic, "The Death of a Gig Worker," 1 June 2018 They were found by a pair of British divers nearly 10 days later, huddled on a small, dry shelf just above the water, smiling with relief but visibly skinny. Anchorage Daily News, "With V-for-Victory sign, rescued Thai boys celebrate freedom," 12 July 2018 They were found by a pair of British divers 10 days later, huddled on a small, dry shelf just above the water, smiling with relief but visibly skinny. Washington Post, "Kids lost weight but ‘took care of themselves’ in Thai cave," 11 July 2018 Just a few days after she was spotted relaxing on a boat following news that her ex proposed to Hailey Baldwin, TMZ caught her leaving a building all smiles with a friend. Kathryn Lindsay,, "Selena Gomez Had The Best Response To Being Grilled By Paps About Bieber," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Trudy always brought a smile to all who knew her with her quick wit and innate kindness. Hartford Courant,, "Gertrude Matthews," 12 July 2018 And a little bit of filler at the angles of the mouth, not for the crease lines, but to bring up a happy smile. Ingrid Schmidt, The Hollywood Reporter, "Derm-to-the-Stars Harold Lancer Says Big Butts Are Out, Lifted Nose Tips Are In," 27 June 2018 Joshua was a loyal son and grandson who had a smile that would light up the darkest room. Staff Report, The Aegis, "Harford ramps up summer campaign to prevent opioid abuse, provide treatment," 15 June 2018 The news on Wednesday, though, brought a big smile on the La Salle grad and Miami of Ohio pitcher's face. Adam Baum,, "La Salle grad Nick Ernst's life changes after phone call from New York Yankees," 7 June 2018 With less weight to carry into corners, the production car should always bring a smile. Tom Voelk, New York Times, "Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo Review: ‘Silence Is the New Power’," 6 June 2018 Simply playing catch for the first time brought a smile to Andrus’ face. Drew Davison, star-telegram, "Rangers' Elvis Andrus takes step forward in hopes of mid-June return | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 17 May 2018 City code would not have permitted the smile as a sign. Jordyn Noennig, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smile will return to iconic Delafield barn in early August as new toy, candy shop prepares to open," 11 July 2018 The Arizona State basketball coach smiles as fellow hikers pass on his left and continues up the mountain, climbing toward an elevation that will reach 2,378 feet. Doug Haller, azcentral, "ASU basketball's Bobby Hurley finds a home in the Arizona desert," 9 July 2018

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.

See More

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"

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about smile

Dictionary Entries near smile






smile on/upon


Statistics for smile

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for smile

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \
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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


one that holds something together

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!