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[smahr-mee] /ˈsmɑr mi/
adjective, smarmier, smarmiest.
excessively or unctuously flattering, ingratiating, servile, etc.:
the emcee with the smarmy welcome.
Origin of smarmy
1905-10; smarm, variant of dial. smalm to smear, make slick (< ?) + -y1
Related forms
smarmily, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for smarmy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If she thinks him too sweet and smarmy with other people, she should let him have it to his nose, straight out.

  • They lipsynch the soundtrack, cadge souvenirs and pester you with smarmy, show-off questions.

  • We'd have four good meals every day and baths every morning, and we'd only feel virtuous and 'smarmy' and do-good-to-the-poor-y.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine
British Dictionary definitions for smarmy


adjective smarmier, smarmiest
(Brit, informal) obsequiously flattering or unpleasantly suave
Derived Forms
smarmily, adverb
smarminess, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for smarmy

"smooth and sleek" (1909); "ingratiating, unctuous," 1924, from smarm + -y (2). Related: Smarmily; smarminess.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for smarmy



  1. Smooth and flattering; unctuously ingratiating; fulsome: a rather smarmy doctor and a highly officious nurse
  2. Rich and sonorous; orotund and fruity; plummy: an announcer with a smarmy voice
  3. Smug and self-righteous: Uncle Sam's Smarmy Look Into Employee Sex Lives

[1924+; origin unknown; since the earliest attested uses have to do with hair oil, it may be a vague blend of smooth, smear, palm oil, cream, etc]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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