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plural smirks
: a smile that shows a smug, condescending, or self-satisfied attitude
A former prosecutor, she deploys an interrogation style that is impatient and knowing, almost amused. The eyebrows go up, a faint smirk plays around the lips: you might as well fess up.Dana Goodyear
As Frank Cross, the arrogant and abusive television network programming exec in this uproarious update of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, [Bill] Murray offers viewers everything they like about him—sarcastic smirks, disgusted eye-rolls.Doug Brod
And while circulation is certainly declining, nearly 50 million people in the U.S. still buy a daily newspaper. So wipe that smirk off your face, Web triumphalists.Jennifer Saba


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smirked; smirking; smirks
intransitive : to smile in a smug, condescending, or self-satisfied way
"I seem to have touched a nerve," said Malfoy, smirking.J. K. Rowling
Cluny lay back and smirked. Everything was going according to plan.Brian Jacques
Some Americans from "old" families likewise smirked behind their napkins at the arriviste's fancy new silver-plate fish set …Douglas Brenner
… they're smirking about the very idea of political seriousness.Kurt Andersen
"Yeah, sure, Ma," I'd say, smirking and rolling my eyes at my husband.Anna Marie Dell'oso
transitive : to say or express (something) with a smirk
"No problem," he smirked when I apologized for my wimpiness.Michael Behar

Examples of smirk in a Sentence

Verb She tried not to smirk when they announced the winner.
Recent Examples on the Web
For finishing touches, the Academy Award winner added a bangle bracelet, a slouchy black bag, black Jimmy Choos, and a knowing smirk. Kathleen Walsh, Glamour, 9 Nov. 2023 Piercing through the camera lens are his pensive, chocolate brown eyes and seductive smirk. Jessica Roiz, Billboard, 17 Oct. 2023 Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Last week, after helping foment the eight-person coup that ended Kevin McCarthy’s 269-day reign as speaker of the United States House of Representatives Matt Gaetz’s signature smirk was everywhere. Matt Laslo, WIRED, 13 Oct. 2023 Suddenly, the lights went out and we were left with the image of his haunting smirk. Steven Vargas, Los Angeles Times, 30 Aug. 2023 At Bowser’s Castle, the mischievous Bowser Jr. reminded me of my youngest kid, whose clever smirk is often the precursor to some shenanigans. Ken Makin, The Christian Science Monitor, 1 Sep. 2023 As Lina, Kylie Young is the fire in the play, hilariously inhabiting her character’s strong New York accent, knowing smirk, two-tone orange and platinum braids, acrylic nails and giant hoop earrings. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Aug. 2023 The jukebox musical is a popular genre, but the unusually large number of tunes mined here (some 70 songs, according to the musical’s website) and the brevity of certain excerpts don’t draw us into the characters’ world and hearts as much as invite us to smirk in recognition. Celia Wren, Washington Post, 17 Aug. 2023 In the picture, the actress is standing up on a boat holding her hand against her forehead and giving the camera a smirk. Tracey Harrington McCoy, Peoplemag, 21 June 2023
This is the smirking milieu from which deepfakes emerged. Daniel Immerwahr, The New Yorker, 13 Nov. 2023 Shiny pop stars on promotional posters displayed various jars and bottles while smirking down at the customers, all of whom had comparably clear, plump, dewy skin. Nicola Dall'asen, Allure, 12 Oct. 2023 In one image, Colin can be seen smirking at a giddy Penelope, as the duo is captured glaring lovingly into each other's eyes in another shot. Dana Rose Falcone, Peoplemag, 17 June 2023 Hill briefly glanced in his direction before turning away and smirking. Rebecca Rosenberg, Fox News, 8 Sep. 2023 Barrymore begins with a smirking grin at her camera, before her expression devolves into one of seriousness and then close to tears. Ct Jones, Rolling Stone, 18 Sep. 2023 Even after a deflating loss to archrival Columbus Crew on Sunday, Brandon Vazquez smirked with anticipation when prompted about Wednesday's game. The Enquirer, 22 Aug. 2023 In a snapshot shared on Instagram, the duo sat next to each other and cheekily smirked at the camera. Stephanie Wenger, Peoplemag, 17 Apr. 2023 Here’s a look at how some notable politicians handled their own mug shots: A smirk and a soft-serve cone Clad in a snappy dark suit, white shirt and blue tie, Perry removed his then-signature black glasses — as mandated by county rules — and offered a smirking half smile in his 2014 mug shot. Will Weissert, Chicago Tribune, 31 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'smirk.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



derivative of smirk entry 2


Middle English, from Old English smearcian to smile; akin to Old English smerian to laugh

First Known Use


circa 1570, in the meaning defined above


1824, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of smirk was circa 1570

Dictionary Entries Near smirk

Cite this Entry

“Smirk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to smile in an insincere or smug manner
smirk noun

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