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?
How to use smirk in a sentence
The bar feels characteristically low on “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” with the 25-year-old quasi-rapping toward dirtbag catharsis, cultivating his dark art with a smirk.Album of the year is the Grammy that nobody deserves to win|Chris Richards|March 12, 2021|Washington Post
So when the Norwegian committee decided to award the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize to the World Food Program, the United Nations’ food assistance agency, it was no surprise that the news was greeted with more than a few smirks and eye-rolls.
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
We continuously pause to pull them out while Zalwar Khan and his companion smirk at us and chew unbothered.Heart of Darkness: Into Afghanistan’s Taliban Valley|Matt Trevithick, Daniel Seckman|November 15, 2014|DAILY BEAST
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
And feeding high, and living soft,Grew plump and able-bodied; Until the grave churchwarden doff'd,The parson smirk'd and nodded.The Book of Humorous Verse|Various
There is a serene self-satisfied smirk on the marble face, which looks more like that of a woman than a man.Round the Wonderful World|G. E. Mitton
There was a smirk of pharisaical satisfaction on their faces.My New Curate|P.A. Sheehan
Tiflin flashed a smirk that showed that his front teeth were missing.The Planet Strappers|Raymond Zinke Gallun
It cost a smirk or smile; Jehu had hundreds at command, and the accident was amended.