verb (used without object), grinned, grin·ning.

to smile broadly, especially as an indication of pleasure, amusement, or the like.
to draw back the lips so as to show the teeth, as a snarling dog or a person in pain.
to show or be exposed through an opening, crevice, etc.

verb (used with object), grinned, grin·ning.

to express or produce by grinning: The little boy grinned his approval of the gift.


Origin of grin

before 1000; Middle English grinnen, grennen, Old English grennian; cognate with Old High German grennan to mutter
Related formsgrin·ner, noungrin·ning·ly, adverb

Synonyms for grin

1. See laugh.




Chiefly Scot. a snare like a running noose.

verb (used with object), grinned, grin·ning.

to catch in a nooselike snare.

Origin of grin

before 900; Middle English grin(e), Old English grin, gryn Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for grin

smirk, beam, simper, crack

Examples from the Web for grin

Contemporary Examples of grin

Historical Examples of grin

  • Then suddenly that face cracked, broadened, spread to a grin.

  • With a grin and a swagger of pure bravado Mulready turned and obeyed.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • And the devil did grin, for his darling sin Is pride that apes humility.


    Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld

  • Or is he recognized as colored only in respect to his peculiar wearin' of the grin?

  • I saw them grin at the little man and spit tobacco juice his way.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

British Dictionary definitions for grin


verb grins, grinning or grinned

to smile with the lips drawn back revealing the teeth or express (something) by such a smileto grin a welcome
(intr) to draw back the lips revealing the teeth, as in a snarl or grimace
grin and bear it informal to suffer trouble or hardship without complaint


a broad smile
a snarl or grimace
Derived Formsgrinner, noungrinning, adjective, noun

Word Origin for grin

Old English grennian; related to Old High German grennen to snarl, Old Norse grenja to howl; see grunt
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

Word Origin and History for grin

Old English grennian "show the teeth" (in pain or anger), common Germanic (cf. Old Norse grenja "to howl," grina "to grin;" Dutch grienen "to whine;" German greinen "to cry"), from PIE root *ghrei- "be open." Sense of "bare the teeth in a broad smile" is late 15c., perhaps via the notion of "forced or unnatural smile." Related: Grinned; grinning.


1630s, from grin (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper