\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

beam, grin

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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

And of course, Prince William and Prince Harry are smiling in that super casual, I’m-a-dashing-prince type of way. Mekita Rivas, Teen Vogue, "Prince Charles 70th Birthday Photos Reunite Royal Family," 14 Nov. 2018 At yesterday's Highland Games, Queen Elizabeth was smiling throughout the day. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Queen Elizabeth Attends Church in Balmoral with Prince Charles and Princess Anne," 2 Sep. 2018 In the pic, North West cuddles up to Kanye West and gives her smiling dad a kiss on the cheek. Andrea Park, Allure, "Kim Kardashian Is Getting Mom-Shamed Again for Straightening North West’s Hair," 24 July 2018 The 18-day ordeal riveted much of the world – from the awful news that the 13 were missing, to the first flickering video of the huddle of anxious yet smiling boys when they were found by a pair of British divers nearly 10 days later. Stephen Wright, The Christian Science Monitor, "US Air Force rescue specialist details 'once in a lifetime rescue' in Thai cave," 11 July 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Sharing a selfie to her Instagram Stories, the actor — who plays Arya Stark on the HBO series — posed with a smile, giving followers the first peek of her very light pink hair. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Maisie Williams Debuted Bubblegum Pink Hair," 29 Nov. 2018 Seasonal hires used to hand goods to customers with a smile; these days, many work in warehouses shipping goods far away. Daniel Lee, WSJ, "Could the Internet Power a Small-Town Renaissance?," 21 Nov. 2018 From the looks of the smiles on everyone's faces, the group was very happy to be reunited. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Meghan Markle Is Spending Thanksgiving Week Visiting the Women of Her Charity Cookbook," 21 Nov. 2018 Despite his global fame, Leonardo remains in many respects as enigmatic as the Mona Lisa’s smile. John Hooper, WSJ, "Exhibits Mark 500 Years of Leonardo da Vinci, the Original Renaissance Man," 31 Oct. 2018 In the solo photo of Kate Middleton and Prince William's son, Prince George has the biggest smile, and poses while wearing a smart white shirt, with blue detailing, and a pair of shorts. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince George Has a New Portrait for His Fifth Birthday and It's So Precious," 21 July 2018 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

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

27 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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More from Merriam-Webster on smile

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with smile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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