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Related to Smiles: Emoticons


A facial expression characterized by an upward curving of the corners of the mouth and indicating pleasure, amusement, or derision.
v. smiled, smil·ing, smiles
1. To have or form a smile.
a. To look with favor or approval: Fortune smiled on our efforts.
b. To express cheerful acceptance or equanimity: We smiled at the bad weather and kept going.
To express with a smile: Grandmother smiled her consent.

[From Middle English smilen, to smile, probably of Scandinavian origin; see smei- in Indo-European roots.]

smil′er n.
smil′ing·ly adv.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(Biography) Samuel. 1812–1904, British writer: author of the didactic work Self-Help (1859)
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014




  1. Adjusted her smile like a cardboard mask —Vicki Baum
  2. An attempt at a smile creased Willie’s face like old tissue —Paige Mitchell
  3. Beamed like a child that stops crying the moment you return his favorite toy and promise never to confiscate it again —Natascha Wodin
  4. Beamed like a lighthouse —Clive Cussler
  5. Beamed like an August moon —F. van Wyck Mason
  6. Beamed like a small boy uncrating his first bicycle —Robert Traver
  7. Beamed like the sun —Mikhail Lermontov

    The sunshine-like smile in Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time is in response to a nod from a young woman at a dance.

  8. Beams like a politician —Dilys Laing
  9. The faint, slow smile clung like an edge of light to her lips —Ellen Glasgow
  10. Flashed her smile [and] bit it off like a thread —John Cheever
  11. A flashing smile, like a knife gleaming briefly from concealment —Ross Macdonald
  12. Had a smile for every occasion, like Hallmark cards —Andrew Kaplan
  13. Her vivid smile was like a light held up to dazzle me —Edith Wharton
  14. His smile drops from his face like a mask with a broken cord —Erich Maria Remarque
  15. His smile lit up the world like a strobe light —Herbert Gold
  16. His smile spread across his bearded face in crooked jerks … like a crack spreading across a dam —Rick Borsten
  17. An indestructible smile cracked forever across the front of his face like the brim of a black ten-gallon hat —Joseph Heller

    The comparison is particularly apt as it applies to a character who’s a Texan.

  18. Kept smiling, as if the corners of his mouth were strung up on invisible wires —Sylvia Plath
  19. The lines of a smile split his jaw like a field furrow —Leigh Allison Wilson
  20. Looked like a lizard regarding a fly —John Irving
  21. A lovely smile, like a shining seal upon a contract —Graham Swift
  22. On-and-off smile … like a light-switch —Eleanor Clark
  23. Pinched-lip smile that dug deep grooves like chisel strokes in her cheeks —Anthony E. Stockanes
  24. A pure and radiant smile suddenly shone out under her beautiful wet eyelashes, like sunshine among branches after a summer shower —Anatole France
  25. Quick smile like somebody with a fever —George Garrett
  26. Quick smiles that were like small coins thrown without fuss to someone who has done a service —Graham Swift
  27. She smiled like a belle —Jonathan Valin
  28. (Smile more widely and) show his teeth like a politician visiting a high school —James Reiss
  29. Simpering like a wolf —Dylan Thomas
  30. A slight smile, like a knife mark in fresh dough —James Crumley
  31. Sly, satisfied smile … like a wink, a nudge in the ribs —Ann Petry
  32. A small puckered-up smile like an old scar —Helen Hudson
  33. Smile as spare as the décor along Death Row —Loren D. Estleman
  34. Smile … warm and steady as summer sun —Mary Hedin
  35. Smile … like a crack in old plaster —Rita Mae Brown
  36. A smile, as artificial as the last touch of makeup —Marguerite Yourcenar
  37. Smile as cold as a polar bear’s feet —Eugene O’Neill
  38. A smile as guileless as that of a serpent —R. Wright Campbell

    See Also: INNOCENCE

  39. The smile, as it went from her face, reminded me of a flame turned off by a tap —H. E. Bates
  40. Smile as phony as that of a trained horse —James Crumley
  41. Smile as sharp as a blade —Ellen Glasgow
  42. Smile broke apart like a cheap tumbler shattering —Geoffrey Wolff
  43. A smile broke over his face like the sunrise over Monadnock —Steven Vincent Benét
  44. Smile … cool as clean linen, friendly as beer —John Braine
  45. Smiled as broad as a Halloween pumpkin —Charles Johnson
  46. (Blinked and) smiled like a lizard on a rock —John D. MacDonald
  47. Smiled like a submissive wife —Herbert Gold
  48. Smiled like a wolf at the thought of the next meal —Mike Fredman
  49. Smiled like a woman resigned to a fate worse than death —James Crumley
  50. Smiled like La Gioconda —Gerald Kersh
  51. Smiled [upon being introduced] like people who had been introduced years before and had flirted and were now hiding their acquaintance —Christina Stead
  52. Smiled like she had just discovered a cure for the common cold —Arnold Sawislak
  53. Smiled off and on, like a neon sign —Clancy Sigal
  54. Smiled with all the charm and cunning of the dangerously insane —Miles Gibson
  55. Smile, fixed like that of a ventriloquist’s doll —Eric Ambler
  56. A smile … flashed like an inspired thought across her face —O. Henry
  57. A smile had widened her lips, spreading like oil —Hortense Calisher
  58. Smile … it refreshes, like a shower from a watering pot —A Broken-Hearted Gardener, anonymous nineteenth century verse
  59. Smile like a cocktail gone flat —Malcolm Cowley
  60. Smile … like a crack in an eggshell —Leslie Thomas
  61. A smile like a cunning little flame came over his face, suddenly and involuntarily —D. H. Lawrence
  62. Smile … like a fresh saber scar —R. V. Cassill
  63. A smile like a large plaster ornament —Marge Piercy
  64. Smile … like all the lights of a Christmas tree going on at once —George Garrett
  65. Smile … like an invitation —Flannery O’Connor
  66. Smile like a plastic daisy —Marge Piercy
  67. Smile like a razor-cut before the blood comes —John Dickson Carr
  68. Smile … like a white flower flung on an open wound —Adela Rogers St. Johns
  69. A smile like Christmas morning —Harry Prince
  70. Smile like heaven —Edith Wharton
  71. Smile … like holiday sunshine —John Le Carré
  72. Smile … like that of the boa constrictor about to swallow the rabbit —Arthur Train
  73. Smile … like the crêpe on a coffin —Lawrence Durrell
  74. A smile like the first scratch on a new car —Tom Robbins
  75. Smile … like the smile of a chipmunk sucking on a toothpick —Don Robertson
  76. Smile like transparent water stirred by a light breeze —Italo Svevo
  77. (Flashes his eyes in) a smile like triumph —D. H. Lawrence
  78. Smile of a man with a terminal headache —T. Coraghessan Boyle
  79. A smile passed over his big face like a soundless storm —Erich Maria Remarque
  80. A smile passed over her lined face like sunlight on a plowed field —Ross Macdonald
  81. The smile she gave him was like a white flower flung on an open wound —Adela Rogers St. Johns
  82. Smiles stolidly flickered like home movies —Stephen Sandy
  83. Smiles tossed like fanciful flowers —Joan Chase
  84. Smiles wanly … like an actor with no conviction —Rosellen Brown
  85. Smile sweet as cake —Lorrie Moore

    See Also: SWEETNESS

  86. A smile that came and went as quickly as a facial tic —John D. MacDonald
  87. Smile that stretches like a rubber band —Daphne Merkin
  88. Smile … vacant and faint like the smile fading on an old photograph —V. S. Pritchett
  89. A smile wide as a mousetrap —David Brierly
  90. A smile with closed lips which was at once sorrowful and comic, very like a clown’s —Storm Jameson
  91. Smiling encouragingly but rather distantly, like friends saying good-bye in a hospital to a patient who is not expected, except by some miracle, to recover —John Mortimer
  92. Smiling like a bailiff —Sumner Locke Elliott
  93. Smiling like a birthday child —John Gardner
  94. Smiling … like a fat yellow cat —J. B. Priestley
  95. Smiling like a winking shudder —Robert Campbell
  96. Smiling secretly as cats do in the midst of mouse dreams —Sue Grafton
  97. Smiling to himself like a mysterious Buddha —Margaret Landon
  98. A soft silky smile [of mother] slipped over her [young daughter] like a new dress, making her feel beautiful —Helen Hudson
  99. Stretching a smile across her face like a rubber band —Susan Ferraro, New York Times/Hers, March 12, 1987
  100. Suddenly, like a crocus bursting out of winter earth, she [a child] looked up at Alison and smiled —John Fowles
  101. The suggestion of an ironic smile rippled about her face like a breeze on a pond —James Crumley
  102. (She smiled at me, and) the smile broke against my face like a cool wave —L. P. Hartley
  103. The way you smile, with your whole face, with your eyes, it’s like a certificate of trust —T. Coraghessan Boyle
  104. When Henry smiled, showing his newly crowned front teeth, he looked like a male lead in an old silent film —Kathleen Farrell
  105. When she smiled her eyes and mouth lighted up as if a lamp shone within —Ellen Glasgow
  106. A wide smile, glamorous and trembly, like a movie star’s —Molly Giles
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
The vicomte wished to begin his story and gave a subtle smile.
His features were like his sister's, but while in her case everything was lit up by a joyous, self-satisfied, youthful, and constant smile of animation, and by the wonderful classic beauty of her figure, his face on the contrary was dulled by imbecility and a constant expression of sullen self-confidence, while his body was thin and weak.
Stepan Arkadyevitch's eyes twinkled gaily, and he pondered with a smile. "Yes, it was nice, very nice.
Instead of being hurt, denying, defending himself, begging forgiveness, instead of remaining indifferent even--anything would have been better than what he did do--his face utterly involuntarily (reflex spinal action, reflected Stepan Arkadyevitch, who was fond of physiology)--utterly involuntarily assumed its habitual, good-humored, and therefore idiotic smile.
But wilt thou not weep, wilt thou not weep forth thy purple melancholy, then wilt thou have to SING, O my soul!--Behold, I smile myself, who foretell thee this:
And all complaining, accusing?" Thus speakest thou to thyself; and therefore, O my soul, wilt thou rather smile than pour forth thy grief--
"Do you know that your smile is crooked?" I asked him; for I knew that she must attend him, and I wished to save her as much as possible.
"So my smile is crooked?" he queried a short while after.
"Aunt Polly says they're 'learning to live,' sighed Pollyanna, with a rueful smile.
Then, with the bright smile his patients knew and loved so well, he added: "And I'm thinking, after all, that it was the doctor, quite as much as his patients, that needed a draft of that tonic!" All of which puzzled Pollyanna very much--until a chipmunk, running across the road, drove the whole matter from her mind.
A faint smile of bitterness had stolen into her tone.
"You two," she said, with a slow, malicious smile, "are a pattern to this wicked world.