smile (v.)

c. 1300, smilen, "assume a facial expression or change of features indicative of amusement and pleasure," perhaps from Middle Low German *smilen (compare Middle High German smielen) or a Scandinavian source (such as Danish smile "smile," Swedish smila "smile, smirk, simper, fawn"), from Proto-Germanic *smil-, extended form of PIE root *smei- "to laugh, smile" (source also of Sanskrit smayate "smiles;" Latvian smiêt "to laugh;" Latin mirus "wonderful," mirari "to wonder;" Old English smerian "to laugh at, scorn," Old High German smieron "to smile"). Related: Smiled; smiling; smilingly.

It gradually pushed the usual Old English word, smearcian (modern smirk), into a specific, unpleasant sense. Of the eyes, from 1759. Figuratively (of Fortune, etc.), as indicating favor or encouragement, from c. 1400. In Middle English to smile still (c. 1400) was to smile to oneself.

The saying smile and the world smiles with you is by 1884, in quotation marks, in newspaper poetry. An early second line to it was, frown, and it frowns again. [1886, credited to E.L. Ellsworth, "Cleveland Leader"]

The Romance, Celtic, and Slavic languages tend to use a diminutive of the word for "laugh" to mean "smile" (such as Latin ridere "laugh;" subridere "smile"), perhaps literally "small laugh" or "low laugh."

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smile (n.)

mid-15c., "expression of the face like that at the start of a laugh, indicating amusement, pleasure, etc.," from smile (v.).

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unsmiling (adj.)

1730, from un- (1) "not" + present participle of smile (v.).

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smiley (adj.)

also smily, "inclined to smile," 1848, from smile (n.) + -y (2). Smileful (c. 1600) is marked "rare" in Century Dictionary. Smiley-face (n.) is from 1981; as a computer icon from 1987.

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comity (n.)

early 15c., "association," from French comité, from Latin comitas "courtesy, friendliness, kindness, affability," from comis "courteous, friendly, kind," perhaps from PIE *ko(m)smi-, literally "smiling with," from *kom- "together" + root *smei- "to laugh, smile" (see smile (v.)).

Meaning "courtesy, civility" in English is from 1540s. Phrase comity of nations attested from 1812: "The obligation recognized by civilized nations to respect each other's laws and usages as far as their separate interests allow."

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smirk (v.)

Middle English smirken, from Old English smearcian "to smile." There are no exact cognates in other languages, but probably it is a suffixed form related to smerian "to laugh at, scorn," which is from Proto-Germanic *smer-, *smar-, variant of PIE *smei- "to smile;" see smile (v.).

After c. 1500, smile gradually restricted smirk to the unpleasant sense "smile affectedly; grin in a malicious or smug way," but in some 18c. glossaries smirk still is simply "to smile." Related: Smirked; smirking.

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marvel (n.)

c. 1300, merivelle, "a miracle; a thing, act, or event which causes astonishment," also "wonderful story or legend," from Old French merveille "a wonder, surprise, miracle," from Vulgar Latin *miribilia (source also of Spanish maravilla, Portuguese maravilha, Italian maraviglia), altered from Latin mirabilia "wonderful things," from noun use of neuter plural of mirabilis "wonderful, marvelous, extraordinary; strange, singular," from mirari "to wonder at," from mirus "wonderful" (see smile (v.)). A neuter plural treated in Vulgar Latin as a feminine singular. Related: Marvels. The Marvel comics brand dates to 1961.

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admire (v.)

early 15c. (implied in admired), "regard with wonder, marvel at," from Old French admirer "look upon, contemplate" (correcting earlier amirer, 14c.), or directly from Latin admirari "regard with wonder, be astonished," from ad "to, with regard to" (see ad-) + mirari "to wonder," from mirus "wonderful" (see smile (v.)). The sense has gradually weakened toward "regard with pleasure and esteem," but for a time they overlapped.

Doe not admire why I admire :
My fever is no other's fire :
Each severall heart hath his desire ;
Els proof is false, and truth a lier.
[Campion, "And would You Faine the Reason Knowe," in "Rosseter's Booke of Ayres Part II," 1601]

Related: Admiring; admiringly.

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miracle (n.)
Origin and meaning of miracle

mid-12c., "a wondrous work of God," from Old French miracle (11c.) "miracle, story of a miracle, miracle play," from Latin miraculum "object of wonder" (in Church Latin, "marvelous event caused by God"), from mirari "to wonder at, marvel, be astonished," figuratively "to regard, esteem," from mirus "wonderful, astonishing, amazing," earlier *smeiros, from PIE *smei- "to smile, laugh" (source also of Sanskrit smerah "smiling," Greek meidan "to smile," Old Church Slavonic smejo "to laugh;" see smile (v.)). The Latin word is the source of Spanish milagro, Italian miracolo

From mid-13c. as "something that excites wonder or astonishment, extraordinary or remarkable feat," without regard to divinity or supernatural power. It replaced Old English wundortacen, wundorweorc. The Greek words rendered as miracle in the English bibles were semeion "sign," teras "wonder," and dynamis "power," which in the Vulgate were translated respectively as signum, prodigium, and virtus.

Miracle-drug is by 1939 (in reference to sulfanilamide). Miracle-worker "a thaumaturge" is from 1560s (Middle English had mircleour, early 15c.). Miracle-play "medieval dramatic representation of the life of Christ or a saint or other sacred subjects" is by 1744 (miraclis pleynge is from c. 1400). The condiment Miracle Whip was introduced 1933 by Kraft Foods; apparently the name was first given to the patented machine that made it.

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smirk (n.)

"affected or conceited smile," 1550s, from smirk (v.).

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