\ 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 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The feature will then produce a short video animation of an individual face that can smile, blink, and move. Coral Murphy Marcos, USA TODAY, "Deep Nostalgia uses video reenactment technology to animate faces in still photos," 26 Feb. 2021 Everyone has to laugh and smile to move through this world. Los Angeles Times, "Isabel Allende isn’t passing the feminist torch — she’s sharing it," 24 Feb. 2021 Liensberger certainly had something so smile about as well. Eric Willemsen, ajc, "Rebooted: Liensberger ends Shiffrin’s gold streak in slalom," 20 Feb. 2021 As Sexton’s 3-point bombs continued to bury Brooklyn late, Irving couldn’t help but chuckle and smile. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Collin Sexton changing narrative, becoming cornerstone of Cleveland Cavaliers’ rebuild: ‘He’s not a regular NBA player’," 21 Jan. 2021 Imagine being in a crowd again, bumping shoulders, chatting with strangers, seeing people smile. Going Out Guide Staff, Washington Post, "Where we found joy in 2020, and where we’ll look for it in 2021," 30 Dec. 2020 At the end of each episode, all the actors featured, even random guest stars, arrive to wave and smile as their names are credited. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "Review: Despite Mayim Bialik's best efforts, Fox's 'Call Me Kat' is a terrible snooze," 31 Dec. 2020 Tom Brady hasn’t given Patriots fans much to smile about in 2020, but his impersonation of teammate Rob Gronkowski on the final day of the year might do the trick. Trevor Hass,, "‘Duuude, that was great.’ Watch Tom Brady nail this impression of Rob Gronkowski," 31 Dec. 2020 He was hooked,, not by cars but by people — and the joy of putting on a new suit, laughing with new friends, making someone smile. al, "Dwayne Hawkins, Crown Automotive founder and Alabama native, dead at 85," 30 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That glowing smile, Lindor said, is the product of his good fortune in life: playing baseball for millions and being healthy. New York Times, "Francisco Lindor Talks Mets, Pizza and Contract Extensions," 11 Jan. 2021 Clare is left frozen with a panicked smile on her face. Ariana Romero,, "The Bachelorette Aired Its Most Triggering Scene Yet," 29 Oct. 2020 Oraetta emerges from his room’s dark doorway — her lethal business now complete — with a content smile on her lips. Nick Schager,, "Fargo recap: Countdown to catastrophe," 26 Oct. 2020 He was probably saved by following the gesture with a smile. Adam Himmelsbach,, "Road-weary Celtics run out of gas in loss to Jazz, and other observations," 10 Feb. 2021 Prescott had a huge smile when greeted by right guard Zack Martin after becoming the first Dallas QB with a touchdown catch since Danny White had his second in 1985. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Dak Prescott has gruesome injury, Cowboys rally to beat Giants," 12 Oct. 2020 Parks had a perpetual smile on his face and was always supportive of Crum’s efforts in the community. Colin Campbell,, "'He was always in my corner’: Killed MTA bus driver Marcus Parks was a family man, Lake Clifton basketball standout," 9 Oct. 2020 Upon holding, Azarenka turned around and had a small smile and held up a fist, sarcastically congratulating herself on holding serve. Wayne Coffey, USA TODAY, "Victoria Azarenka upsets Serena Williams in three sets, advances to US Open final," 11 Sep. 2020 Maybe if more time had passed, if the country had better handled the pandemic, that phone call could’ve been a face-to-face smile, a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, "Lakers early formula: Be mindful of minutes for LeBron James and Anthony Davis," 23 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for smile

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for smile

Last Updated

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Smile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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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 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

Nglish: Translation of smile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of smile for Arabic Speakers

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