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

Synonyms for smile

1, 7. See laugh.

Antonyms for smile

1, 7. frown.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for smiles

smirk, laugh, grin, beam, simper

Examples from the Web for smiles

Contemporary Examples of smiles

Historical Examples of smiles

  • For Saffy, she was a thing of smiles and of tears just as they chose to come.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • See how pleased she is--how full of smiles and happiness she seems.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • The smiles which surrounded him were of his own creation, and he participated in the happiness he had bestowed.

    Maid Marian

    Thomas Love Peacock

  • She could distribute, and did distribute pretty looks and smiles to every one among them.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • Lady Coryston's smiles were scarcely less formidable than her frowns.

    The Coryston Family

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

British Dictionary definitions for smiles



Samuel. 1812–1904, British writer: author of the didactic work Self-Help (1859)



a facial expression characterized by an upturning of the corners of the mouth, usually showing amusement, friendliness, etc, but sometimes scorn, etc
favour or blessingthe smile of fortune
an agreeable appearance


(intr) to wear or assume a smile
(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
(intr; foll by on or upon) to show approval; bestow a blessing
(tr) to express by means of a smileshe smiled a welcome
(tr often foll by away) to drive away or change by smilingsmile away one's tears
come up smiling to recover cheerfully from misfortune
Derived Formssmiler, nounsmiling, adjectivesmilingly, adverbsmilingness, noun

Word Origin for smile

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 smiles



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."



1560s, from smile (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with smiles


In addition to the idiom beginning with smile

  • smile on

also see:

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