adjective, smug·ger, smug·gest.

contentedly confident of one's ability, superiority, or correctness; complacent.
trim; spruce; smooth; sleek.

Origin of smug

1545–55; perhaps < Middle Dutch smuc neat, pretty, nice
Related formssmug·ly, adverbsmug·ness, nounun·smug, adjectiveun·smug·ly, adverbun·smug·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for smugness

Contemporary Examples of smugness

Historical Examples of smugness

  • There were both earnestness and tenderness in his tones—the smugness of the physician was gone.

    The Landloper

    Holman Day

  • "Our regular price," and you catch a sneer beneath the smugness of the Voice.

  • Nor did du Fresne's smugness help Lindsay's assurance a bit.

    The Ambassador

    Samuel Kimball Merwin

  • They are inimical to smugness and to complacent satisfaction.

    The Purple Heights

    Marie Conway Oemler

  • But, is there not just a faint suggestion of smugness in her mien?

    Plum Pudding

    Christopher Morley

British Dictionary definitions for smugness


adjective smugger or smuggest

excessively self-satisfied or complacent
archaic trim or neat
Derived Formssmugly, adverbsmugness, noun

Word Origin for smug

C16: of Germanic origin; compare Low German smuck neat
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 smugness



1550s, "trim, neat, spruce, smart," possibly an alteration of Low German smuk "trim, neat," from Middle Low German smücken "to adorn" (originally "to dress," secondary sense of words meaning "to creep or slip into"), from the same source as smock. The meaning "having a self-satisfied air" is from 1701, an extension of the sense of "smooth, sleek" (1580s), which was commonly used of attractive women and girls. Related: Smugly; smugness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper