adjective, smarm·i·er, smarm·i·est.

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 formssmarm·i·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for smarmy

smug, buttery, fulsome, insincere, oily, oleaginous, sleek, smooth, suave

Examples from the Web for smarmy

Contemporary Examples of smarmy

Historical Examples of smarmy

  • 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 or smarmiest

British informal obsequiously flattering or unpleasantly suave
Derived Formssmarmily, adverbsmarminess, 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

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