\ 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 A dozen giraffe heads, crafted in shades of orange and brown with top hats and flowing eyelashes, smile in a tidy row atop the commercial-grade stove, while a pair of zebras peer out from a corner near the refrigerator. Danica Kirka, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 June 2022 A dozen giraffe heads, crafted in shades of orange and brown with top hats and flowing eyelashes, smile in a tidy row atop the commercial-grade stove, while a pair of zebras peer out from a corner near the refrigerator. Danica Kirka, ajc, 4 June 2022 To buy something, simply smile or wave at a camera equipped with a biometric reader, according to the company, which touts the advantage of not having to pull out your pocketbook or phone to make payment. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, 20 May 2022 Alexander Yam, 4, and Amanda Yam, 8, smile with their faces painted in front of purple flowers at the end of the event. Taylor Coester And Alanis Broussard,, 18 May 2022 The family, dressed in varying shades of moss green and blue, smile together while sitting against an outdoor, rocky background. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 22 Apr. 2022 The 28-year-old Canadian singer said the syndrome had paralyzed half his face, leaving him able to blink only one eye, move one nostril and smile with half his mouth. Dominique Mosbergen, WSJ, 11 June 2022 Healy said a student might reflexively smile after being told to do so by a photographer. oregonlive, 6 June 2022 Fourth-grader Tess Marie Mata was remembered for making her family smile. Los Angeles Times, 26 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Where magazines of the late 2000s and early 2010s were capturing only the most successful or famous, Tommy and Phil happily turned their lenses to anyone with a cool outfit and a great smile. Steff Yotka, Vogue, 15 June 2022 Lip wings, however, focus the overlining on the outer corners of lips, drawing an upwards flick towards the edge of the mouth to create the illusion of a permanent natural smile. Lottie Winter, Glamour, 13 June 2022 The image of Yzerman hoisting the Cup while grinning a gap-toothed smile became iconic. Gene Myers, Detroit Free Press, 12 June 2022 The Cougar of the late 60s-early 70′s is a unique looking auto that features headlights hidden behind a grill that resembles a shark’s smile. cleveland, 12 June 2022 His infectious personality and smile always lit up a room with so much joy and happiness. Naledi Ushe, USA TODAY, 12 June 2022 Jayson Tatum flashes a smile while sitting on the bench after doing some pregame shooting. Nicole Yang,, 11 June 2022 True and Grey Kitty have been going strong since Kardashian first debuted the feline on social media in January, when True couldn't help but sport a big smile alongside the cat. Charmaine Patterson,, 10 June 2022 For instance, a 6-month-old pandemic baby is less likely than a previous 6-month-old to get into a crawling position or smile at herself in the mirror – both of which are considered milestones for that age group. USA Today, 9 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

28 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Smile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 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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