\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

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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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Durant said, smiling alongside Curry at their joint news conference. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, "A dynasty secured," 13 June 2018 One by one, the children smiled, bashful and proud. Amelia Nierenberg,, "‘It feels nice to be with other people who have been through it:’ At Camp Kangaroo, grieving kids come together to talk, reflect, and play," 14 July 2018 Targalski smiled and pressed on, with the resignation of a man who has shared his home with a cat and thus knows his place in the feline-human order. Amy B Wang, The Seattle Times, "A professor was giving a TV interview about Polish politics. His cat didn’t care.," 9 July 2018 Dressed in red, white and blue striped attire, the family smiled, waved to the crowds and held miniature flags proudly in the air during the procession, with Samuel sitting close to his mom and Seraphina chatting with a friend. Jen Juneau,, "Parading Patriots! Jennifer Garner and Her Kids Ride Atop a Truck During Fourth of July Parade," 5 July 2018 In the pic, Kylie smiles at the camera with what looks like a bare, makeup-free face with her natural smattering of freckles. Chloe Metzger, Marie Claire, "Kylie Jenner Just Posted a Major Makeup-Free Selfie," 11 June 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

As many proud parents do, the Kate Plus 8 star posted a touching snap of her kids Aaden, Alexis, Leah, Joel, Madelyn (or Mady), and Cara carrying their backpacks and flashing big smiles before their first day of classes. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Kate Gosselin Posted a Back-to-School Instagram and It's Making Fans Panic," 24 Aug. 2018 His most blissful times were sharing experiences with family at his lake house in Holland where his broad, booming smile was always on display., "Darrell Johnson," 7 July 2018 Kanye is clearly overjoyed, and flashes a huge smile. Meagan Fredette,, "Kanye West Smiling At A Mentalist At His Birthday Is The Happy Content We Need," 10 June 2018 The Somali, Sudanese, Kenyan, Ethiopian, and Nigerian men occupying the tables around us also flashed big smiles of approval. Ashlea Halpern, Bon Appetit, "Searching for Goat Meat In Trump Country," 6 June 2018 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

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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Learn More about smile

Dictionary Entries near smile






smile on/upon


Statistics for smile

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for smile

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

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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 \
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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Comments on smile

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a private place of worship

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