Entries related to unsmiling
prefix of negation, Old English un-, from Proto-Germanic *un- (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German, German un-, Gothic un-, Dutch on-), from PIE *n- (source of Sanskrit a-, an- "not," Greek a-, an-, Old Irish an-, Latin in-), combining form of PIE root *ne- "not." Often euphemistic (such as untruth for "lie").
The most prolific of English prefixes, freely and widely used in Old English, where it forms more than 1,000 compounds. It underwent a mass extinction in early Middle English, but emerged with renewed vigor 16c. to form compounds with native and imported words. It disputes with Latin-derived cognate in- (1) the right to form the negation of certain words (indigestable/undigestable, etc.), and though both might be deployed in cooperation to indicate shades of meaning (unfamous/infamous), typically they are not.
It also makes words from phrases (such as uncalled-for, c. 1600; undreamed-of, 1630s; uncome-at-able, 1690s; unputdownable, 1947, of a book; un-in-one-breath-utterable, Ben Jonson; etc., but the habit is not restricted to un-; such as put-up-able-with, 1812). As a prefix in telegramese to replace not and save the cost of a word, it is attested by 1936.
c. 1300, perhaps from Middle Low German *smilen 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.
It gradually pushed the usual Old English word, smearcian (modern smirk), into a specific, unpleasant sense. Of the eyes, from 1759. Figuratively, as indicating favor or encouragement, from c. 1400. 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."