\ ˈsməg How to pronounce smug (audio) \
smugger; smuggest

Definition of smug

1 : highly self-satisfied
2 : trim or smart in dress : spruce
3 : scrupulously clean, neat, or correct : tidy

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from smug

smugly adverb
smugness noun

Examples of smug in a Sentence

Meanwhile, supporters are smug and righteous that the person who manages the world's leading stock exchange deserves every million. — Susan Lee, Wall Street Journal, 10 Sept. 2003 Alice Norcross Pratt, a local stay-at-home mom, is portrayed as smug and pious, yet we also see glimmers of her hidden longings. — Elizabeth Graver, New York Times Book Review, 27 May 2001 Once, Roy dared shooters to beat him with a shot between his legs. Now, he no longer passes out such smug invitations. The goalie who transformed the butterfly technique into an art form has humbly decided to keep his skates a little closer together … — Mark Kiszla, ESPN, 28 May 2001 She was tall and beautiful and multilingual and fiercely opinionated. One of her opinions held that the rags that passed for literary magazines on campus were so smug and tame and insular that it was hopeless to even try to reform them; they simply needed to be replaced. — Tom Perrotta, Joe College, 2000 It's OK to celebrate your success, but try not to be too smug about it. You can wipe that smug look off your face.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Remainers are smug, not to mention sniffy about submitting to so much turmoil only to sustain the status quo. Lionel Shriver, Harper's magazine, "No Exit," 10 Apr. 2019 There is something self-satisfied and smug about self-fulfillment. WSJ, "Stockard Channing, Mickalene Thomas and More on Fulfillment," 5 Sep. 2018 The clip of Sandemann's smug smirk went viral, where it was met with immediate outrage on Twitter and an avalanche of negative media coverage. Kate Storey, Town & Country, "Behind the PR Machine That Helped Change the Nick Sandmann Narrative," 25 Jan. 2019 Whatever Peirez said or did, the above comment by Rundell comes across as smug, unpleasant and passive-aggressive. Marwa Eltagouri, Washington Post, "She didn’t expect her video of a screaming Delta passenger would go viral. Now she feels bad.," 18 Feb. 2018 Having a freezer filled with logs of cookie dough will give you a calm, perhaps even smug feeling that’s the polar opposite of holiday hysteria. Adina Steiman, WSJ, "This Holiday Season’s Smartest Cookie," 5 Dec. 2018 Our smug superiority translates into a fear of living elsewhere, despite my unofficial data that say a higher quality of life, and a happier existence, is far more readily accessible outside the metropolitan area. Lisa Selin Davis, Curbed, "Amazon’s New York City move is bad for the city—and for Amazon’s employees," 20 Nov. 2018 Comedy Central For a while now, the most succinct takedown of the smug self-satisfaction of South Park at its worst has been a screencap of a Reddit comment. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "12 years after mocking Al Gore’s fight against climate change, South Park reconsiders," 14 Nov. 2018 The most common criticisms— a reflexive, sometimes paranoid concern over the U.N.’s encroachments on American sovereignty, or a smug dismissal of cooperation between states as a utopian pipe dream—are easy to rebut. Martin Peretz, WSJ, "Let’s Get the U.N. Out of the U.S.," 28 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'smug.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of smug

1551, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for smug

probably modification of Low German smuck neat, from Middle Low German, from smucken to dress; akin to Old English smoc smock

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about smug

Dictionary Entries near smug


smudge pot






Statistics for smug

Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for smug

The first known use of smug was in 1551

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for smug



English Language Learners Definition of smug

disapproving : having or showing the annoying quality of people who feel very pleased or satisfied with their abilities, achievements, etc.


\ ˈsməg How to pronounce smug (audio) \
smugger; smuggest

Kids Definition of smug

: showing a superior attitude

Other Words from smug

smugly adverb

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on smug

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with smug

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for smug

Spanish Central: Translation of smug

Nglish: Translation of smug for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of smug for Arabic Speakers

Comments on smug

What made you want to look up smug? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing courage and determination

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!