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verb (used without object)
  1. to be a source of sharp, local, and usually superficial pain, as a wound.
  2. to be the cause of a sharp, stinging pain, as an irritating application, a blow, etc.
  3. to feel a sharp, stinging pain, as in a wound.
  4. to suffer keenly from wounded feelings: She smarted under their criticism.
  5. to feel shame or remorse or to suffer in punishment or in return for something.
verb (used with object)
  1. to cause a sharp pain to or in.
adjective, smart·er, smart·est.
  1. quick or prompt in action, as persons.
  2. having or showing quick intelligence or ready mental capability: a smart student.
  3. shrewd or sharp, as a person in dealing with others or as in business dealings: a smart businessman.
  4. clever, witty, or readily effective, as a speaker, speech, rejoinder, etc.
  5. dashingly or impressively neat or trim in appearance, as persons, dress, etc.
  6. socially elegant; sophisticated or fashionable: the smart crowd.
  7. saucy; pert: smart remarks.
  8. sharply brisk, vigorous, or active: to walk with smart steps.
  9. sharply severe, as a blow, stroke, etc.
  10. sharp or keen: a smart pain.
  11. (of a machine, system, etc.) equipped with electronic control mechanisms and capable of automated and seemingly intelligent operation: smart copiers; smart weapons.
  12. having properties that can be changed in response to stimuli or environmental conditions; self-regulating: smart fabrics that respond to temperature or light.
  13. Computers. intelligent(def 4).
  14. Older Use. considerable; fairly large.
  1. in a smart manner; smartly.
  1. a sharp local pain, usually superficial, as from a wound, blow, or sting.
  2. keen mental suffering, as from wounded feelings, affliction, grievous loss, etc.
  3. smarts, Slang. intelligence; common sense: He never had the smarts to use his opportunities.

Origin of smart

before 1050; (v.) Middle English smerten, Old English -smeortan (only in the compound fyrsmeortende painful like fire), cognate with Old High German smerzan (German schmerzen); (adj.) Middle English smerte, smart quick, prompt, sharp, orig., biting, smarting, late Old English smearte, akin to the v.; (adv. and noun) Middle English smerte, derivative of the adj.
Related formssmart·ing·ly, adverbsmart·ly, adverbsmart·ness, nounsu·per·smart, adjectivesu·per·smart·ly, adverbsu·per·smart·ness, nounul·tra·smart, adjectiveun·smart, adjectiveun·smart·ing, adjective

Synonyms for smart

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Antonyms for smart

8. stupid. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for smart

Contemporary Examples of smart

Historical Examples of smart

British Dictionary definitions for smart


  1. astute, as in business; clever or bright
  2. quick, witty, and often impertinent in speecha smart talker
  3. fashionable; chica smart hotel
  4. well-kept; neat
  5. causing a sharp stinging pain
  6. vigorous or brisk
  7. dialect considerable or numerousa smart price
  8. (of systems) operating as if by human intelligence by using automatic computer control
  9. (of a projectile or bomb) containing a device that allows it to be guided to its target
verb (mainly intr)
  1. to feel, cause, or be the source of a sharp stinging physical pain or keen mental distressa nettle sting smarts; he smarted under their abuse
  2. (often foll by for) to suffer a harsh penalty
  1. a stinging pain or feeling
  1. in a smart manner
Derived Formssmartish, adjectivesmartly, adverbsmartness, noun

Word Origin for smart

Old English smeortan; related to Old High German smerzan, Latin mordēre to bite, Greek smerdnos terrible


  1. Christopher. 1722–71, British poet, author of A Song to David (1763) and Jubilate Agno (written 1758–63, published 1939). He was confined (1756–63) for religious mania and died in a debtors' prison
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 smart

Old English smeortan "be painful," from Proto-Germanic *smarta- (cf. Middle Dutch smerten, Dutch smarten, Old High German smerzan, German schmerzen "to pain," originally "to bite"), from PIE *smerd- "pain," an extension of the root *mer- (2) "to rub; to harm" (cf. Greek smerdnos "terrible, dreadful," Sanskrit mardayati "grinds, rubs, crushes," Latin mordere "to bite"). Related: Smarted; smarting.


late Old English smeart "painful, severe, stinging; causing a sharp pain," related to smeortan (see smart (v.)). Meaning "executed with force and vigor" is from c.1300. Meaning "quick, active, clever" is attested from c.1300, from the notion of "cutting" wit, words, etc., or else "keen in bargaining." Meaning "trim in attire" first attested 1718, "ascending from the kitchen to the drawing-room c.1880" [Weekley]. For sense evolution, cf. sharp (adj.).

In reference to devices, the sense of "behaving as though guided by intelligence" (e.g. smart bomb) first attested 1972. Smarts "good sense, intelligence," is first recorded 1968. Smart cookie is from 1948.


"sharp pain," c.1200, from sharp (adj.). Cf. cognate Middle Dutch smerte, Dutch smart, Old High German smerzo, German Schmerz "pain."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper