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smart aleck

[al-ik] /ˈæl ɪk/
an obnoxiously conceited person.
a wise guy.
Origin of smart aleck
1860-65, Americanism; generic use of Aleck, nickname for Alexander
Related forms
smart-alecky, smart-aleck, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for smart aleck
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You had the chance; 'twould have served me right for playing the smart aleck.

    Mary-'Gusta Joseph C. Lincoln
  • “That sounds suspiciously like trying to be a smart aleck,” I retorted.

    The Prairie Mother Arthur Stringer
  • It was the history of all smart aleck's, and there is no use of going into details.

  • After some smart aleck has written it up as an English comp.

    The Turner Twins Ralph Henry Barbour
  • Probably some "smart aleck" of a district judge can explain.

    The Twin Hells John N. Reynolds
  • A neighbor of mine, a hardware man, told me an instance of the smart aleck a few days ago.

    A Man of Samples Wm. H. Maher
  • To this they sent a 'smart aleck' letter, and when we drew on them allowed our draft to be returned.

    A Man of Samples Wm. H. Maher
  • Oh, I've got a little business to transact with Reeves and some other smart aleck downtown.

  • "Thought hisself a smart aleck, I reckon," remarked the hunter, with continual contempt.

    The Treasure of Pearls Gustave Aimard
British Dictionary definitions for smart aleck

smart aleck

noun (pl) smart alecks
(informal) an irritatingly oversmart person
Derived Forms
smart-aleck, smart-alecky, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from Aleck, Alec, short for Alexander
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 smart aleck

1865, of unknown origin, perhaps in reference to Aleck Hoag, notorious pimp, thief, and confidence man in New York City in early 1840s [Barnhart]. See smart (adj.). Related: Smart-alecky.

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

smart aleck


: I asked you to come here to give us advice, not smart-aleck talk

noun phrase

smart-ass (1865+)

[perhaps fr Aleck Hoag, a thief whose fate was described in an 1844 book by George Wilkes]

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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Idioms and Phrases with smart aleck

smart aleck

An impudent or obnoxiously self-assertive individual, a wise guy, as in New teachers often have a hard time coping with the smart alecks in their classes. This expression, dating from the mid-1800s, probably alluded to a person of this description who was named Alec or Alexander, but his identity has been lost.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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