smirk

[ smurk ]
/ smɜrk /

verb (used without object)

to smile in an affected, smug, or offensively familiar way.

noun

the facial expression of a person who smirks.

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Origin of smirk

before 900; Middle English smirken (v.), Old English sme(a)rcian

OTHER WORDS FROM smirk

smirker, nounsmirk·ing·ly, adverbun·smirk·ing, adjectiveun·smirk·ing·ly, adverb

Words nearby smirk

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does smirk mean?

A smirk is a kind of smile, but it’s not a friendly smile—it’s often a sarcastic or arrogant one or one that’s intended to provoke or irritate the person who sees it.

Smirk is also a verb that means to smile in such a way. People often smirk to show contempt for someone or something—such as by smirking at a person who’s angry at them.

Sometimes, though, the word simply refers to a kind of slight smile or a smile that looks like a smirk usually does—a baby might smirk, for example, obviously without meaning anything by it.

Example: Wipe that smirk off your face and take this seriously!

Where does smirk come from?

The first records of smirk come from before 900. It comes from the Old English smearcian, which is related to the Old English smer, meaning “derision.” It’s also related to the Old High German words bismer, “contempt,” and bismerōn, “to scorn.”

A smirk doesn’t usually look like a real smile, because it isn’t. People smile due to happiness or amusement, but a smirk is often a weaponized smile. People usually smirk because they’re trying to annoy someone, especially a person who’s already upset. People sometimes smirk at the person who is scolding them to show that they’re really not taking it seriously. Such a smirk is often intended to indicate that the person who’s doing the scolding can’t really do anything about it, and that amuses the smirking person. The expression “wipe that smirk off your face” is often used in response to situations like this.

A smirk can also indicate that someone is smug or self-satisfied. Some people smirk all the time because they see everything and everyone else as a joke—which is another way of saying that they’re contemptuous.

But not only jerks smirk. Less commonly, a smirk might be a slight smile, like the kind you get when you think of something funny in a setting where you shouldn’t be laughing or smiling to yourself.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms of smirk?

  • smirkingly (adverb)
  • smirking (adjective)
  • smirker (noun)

What are some synonyms for smirk?

What are some words that often get used in discussing smirk?

 

How is smirk used in real life?

Smirk is almost always used negatively, unless it’s simply referring to a smile that looks like a smirk.

 

 

Try using smirk!

Which of the following words would NOT usually be used to describe a smirk?

A. genuine
B. sarcastic
C. smug
D. contemptuous

Example sentences from the Web for smirk

British Dictionary definitions for smirk

smirk
/ (smɜːk) /

noun

a smile expressing scorn, smugness, etc, rather than pleasure

verb

(intr) to give such a smile
(tr) to express with such a smile

Derived forms of smirk

smirker, nounsmirking, adjectivesmirkingly, adverb

Word Origin for smirk

Old English smearcian; related to smer derision, Old High German bismer contempt, bismerōn to scorn
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