• synonyms


verb (used without object), smiled, smil·ing.
  1. to assume a facial expression indicating pleasure, favor, or amusement, but sometimes derision or scorn, characterized by an upturning of the corners of the mouth.
  2. to regard with favor: Luck smiled on us that night.
  3. to have a pleasant or agreeable appearance or aspect, as natural scenes, objects, etc.: The landscape smiled in the sunlight.
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verb (used with object), smiled, smil·ing.
  1. to assume or give (a smile, especially of a given kind): She smiled a warm and friendly smile.
  2. to express by a smile: to smile approval.
  3. to bring, put, drive, etc., by or as by smiling: to smile one's tears away.
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  1. the act or an instance of smiling; a smiling expression of the face.
  2. favor or kindly regard: fortune's smile.
  3. a pleasant or agreeable appearance, look, or aspect.
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Verb Phrases
  1. smile at,
    1. to regard with pleasure or amusement, as with a smile.
    2. to regard with mild derision: to smile at someone's affectations.
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Origin of smile

1250–1300; Middle English smyllen (v.); cognate with Old High German smīlan, Danish smile
Related formssmile·less, adjectivesmile·less·ly, adverbsmile·less·ness, nounsmil·er, nounsmil·ing·ly, adverbhalf-smil·ing, adjectivehalf-smil·ing·ly, adverbout·smile, verb (used with object), out·smiled, out·smil·ing.sub·smile, nounun·smil·ing, adjectiveun·smil·ing·ly, adverb


1, 7. See laugh.


1, 7. frown.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for smileless

Historical Examples

  • There was a smileless gravity about his lips and eyes which was very impressive.

    Prairie Folks

    Hamlin Garland

  • He sat, his head back, his face bathed in the sun, smileless and dreaming.

  • But smileless, the cynic departed, and Flamby looked after him without regret.

  • Her lips and eyes, as grave and smileless as his own, puzzled him.

  • And so the old man, whose life had been so smileless, died smiling.

British Dictionary definitions for smileless


  1. a facial expression characterized by an upturning of the corners of the mouth, usually showing amusement, friendliness, etc, but sometimes scorn, etc
  2. favour or blessingthe smile of fortune
  3. an agreeable appearance
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  1. (intr) to wear or assume a smile
  2. (intr foll by at)
    1. to look (at) with a kindly or amused expression
    2. to look derisively (at) instead of being annoyed
    3. to bear (troubles, etc) patiently
  3. (intr; foll by on or upon) to show approval; bestow a blessing
  4. (tr) to express by means of a smileshe smiled a welcome
  5. (tr often foll by away) to drive away or change by smilingsmile away one's tears
  6. come up smiling to recover cheerfully from misfortune
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Derived Formssmiler, nounsmiling, adjectivesmilingly, adverbsmilingness, noun

Word Origin

C13: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Swedish smila, Danish smile; related to Middle High German smielen
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 smileless



c.1300, perhaps from Middle Low German *smilen or a Scandinavian source (e.g. Danish smile "smile," Swedish smila "smile, smirk, simper, fawn"), from Proto-Germanic *smil-, extended form of PIE root *smei- "to laugh, smile" (cf. Old English smerian "to laugh at, scorn," Old High German smieron "to smile," Latin mirus "wonderful," mirari "to wonder"). Related: Smiled; smiling.

Gradually pushed the usual Old English word, smearcian (modern smirk), into a specific, unpleasant sense. Of the eyes, from 1759. Figuratively, as indicating favor or encouragement, from c.1400. Romance, Celtic, and Slavic languages tend to use a diminutive of the word for "laugh" to mean "smile" (e.g. Latin ridere "laugh;" subridere "smile"), perhaps literally "small laugh" or "low laugh."

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1560s, from smile (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with smileless


In addition to the idiom beginning with smile

  • smile on

also see:

  • crack a smile
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.