verb (used without object)
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Origin of smirk
OTHER WORDS FROM smirksmirker, nounsmirk·ing·ly, adverbun·smirk·ing, adjectiveun·smirk·ing·ly, adverb
Words nearby smirk
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.
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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.
During these difficult times, strive to keep a stiff upper lip. For even more flair add a knowing smirk.
— Myrna Tellingheusen (@PearlsFromMyrna) April 4, 2020
As my mother used to say, “You’d better wipe that smirk off your face young lady.” In my moms defense I was a rotten teenager 😔
— Cutie Pie ☘️🌷🌊🍎🏈 (@manneb2015) April 14, 2020
being on twitter is just nose huffing and smirking at your phone
— willllll (@_ogwill_) April 19, 2020
Try using smirk!
Which of the following words would NOT usually be used to describe a smirk?
Example sentences from the Web for smirk
So when we hear the knee-jerk smirk of our age, when anyone says “Asterisk Dodgers,” just respond, “For shame.”No asterisk required: These Dodgers were historically great — and legitimate champions|Thomas M. Boswell|October 29, 2020|Washington Post
The tiniest smirk crawled across Patrick Ewing’s face as the question was asked, a small curl starting from the right corner of his mouth.Big East coaches pick Georgetown to finish last. Patrick Ewing says that’s about right.|Kareem Copeland|October 28, 2020|Washington Post
Wahlberg chimes in with the hint of a smirk: “The hard days of digging ditches!”
When he turned himself in, he wore a smirk in his mug shot, and then he went out for ice cream with reporters in tow.
But drinking for every triple Lutz, American flag or smirk from Putin could cause a calorie avalanche and sick Sochi gut.6 Ways to Avoid ‘Sochi Gut’ While Watching the Olympics|Jenna A. Bell|February 12, 2014|DAILY BEAST
It's better to try to pack every moment with beauty and feeling than to shrug and smirk.Hey! Some People Liked Grown Ups 2: Critics Defend The Razzie Nominations|Amy Zimmerman|January 15, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Partisans in Washington will smirk that these things are optimistic baloney and keep sending their troops off to battle.Congress Can Become Civil and Productive if Moderate Voters Demand It|Joshua DuBois|October 28, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Fortunately the bride, all smirk and blush, had just entered the room.Waverley|Sir Walter Scott
And while I bow and smirk and crack witticisms, I and the devil will be chuckling in our sleeves.The Million Dollar Mystery|Harold MacGrath
I remained silent, hoping my unwelcome visitor would depart, but instead he began now to leer and smirk at me ingratiatingly.A Maid of the Kentucky Hills|Edwin Carlile Litsey
He smiled at her with a complacency that made it almost a smirk.Ewing\'s Lady|Harry Leon Wilson
Ryanne threw her a greeting, to which she responded with a smirk that once upon a time had been a smile.The Carpet from Bagdad|Harold MacGrath