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[smurk] /smɜrk/
verb (used without object)
to smile in an affected, smug, or offensively familiar way.
the facial expression of a person who smirks.
Origin of smirk
before 900; Middle English smirken (v.), Old English sme(a)rcian
Related forms
smirker, noun
smirkingly, adverb
unsmirking, adjective
unsmirkingly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for smirking
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "The post has only this moment come in," says the smirking commissioner.

    Roundabout Papers William Makepeace Thackeray
  • "Fifteen cents, lady," said the peddler, smirking as he raised his price.

  • Evidently he believed himself irresistible, and his smirking, posing, and ogling were ludicrous to the last degree.

    Brave Tom Edward S. Ellis
  • I think I see him now,—in a waistcoat that had been mine,—smirking along as if he knew me.

    Odd Volume Various
  • But the smirking Humphreys moved toward her, speaking soothingly, and assuring her that there was some mistake.

    The End Of The World Edward Eggleston
British Dictionary definitions for smirking


a smile expressing scorn, smugness, etc, rather than pleasure
(intransitive) to give such a smile
(transitive) to express with such a smile
Derived Forms
smirker, noun
smirking, adjective
smirkingly, adverb
Word Origin
Old English smearcian; related to smer derision, Old High German bismer contempt, bismerōn to scorn
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 smirking



Old English smearcian "to smile." No exact cognates in other languages, but probably related to smerian "to laugh at, scorn," from Proto-Germanic *smer-, *smar-, variant of PIE *smei- "to smile;" see smile (v.), which after c.1500 gradually restricted smirk to the unpleasant sense "smile affectedly; grin in a malicious or smug way." In some 18c. glossaries smirk is still simply "to smile." Related: Smirked; smirking. The noun is recorded by 1560s.


1550s, from smirk (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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