crack a smile
Smile, as in Betty was a very serious person; she rarely cracked a smile. This colloquialism transfers crack in the sense of “break” to breaking a serious facial expression into a smile.
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How to use crack a smile in a sentence
In that photo, Merabet has a big smile that spreads across his whole face and lights up his eyes.
ROME — What does it take for a Hollywood A-lister to get a private audience with Pope Francis?Pope Francis Has the Pleasure of Meeting Angelina Jolie for a Few Seconds|Barbie Latza Nadeau|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
For those living in poor communities in particular, interactions with police rarely come with good news and a smile.
He was grabbing my hips and he was pouring with perspiration and he had this cheesy smile.
At this point Marvin gives his Liberty Valance smile, the kind that makes you wish you could disintegrate in front of him.The Story Behind Lee Marvin’s Liberty Valance Smile|Robert Ward|January 3, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Joe looked at her with a smile, his face still solemn and serious for all its youth and the fires of new-lit hope behind his eyes.The Bondboy|George W. (George Washington) Ogden
The moon seemed to smile on him; the aurora appeared to dance with unwonted vigour, as if in glee; the very stars winked at him!The Giant of the North|R.M. Ballantyne
Now-a-days it is the bankrupt who flouts, and his too confiding creditors who are jeered and laughed at.Glances at Europe|Horace Greeley
He felt himself the meanest, vilest thing a-crawl upon this sinful earth, and she—dear God!St. Martin's Summer|Rafael Sabatini
All that scientific bric-a-brac in the cupboard had far better be thrown away.The Salvaging Of Civilisation|H. G. (Herbert George) Wells