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.

smirk (n.)

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

updated on January 27, 2023