AskDefine | Define smiling

Dictionary Definition

smiling adj : smiling with happiness or optimism; "Come to my arms, my beamish boy!"- Lewis Carroll; "a room of smiling faces"; "a round red twinkly Santa Claus" [syn: beamish, smiling(a), twinkly] n : a facial expression characterized by turning up the corners of the mouth; usually shows pleasure or amusement [syn: smile, grin, grinning]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. That smiles or smile.
    smiling children


  1. The action of the verb to smile.


  1. present participle of smile

Extensive Definition

In physiology, a smile is a facial expression formed by flexing those muscles most notably near both ends of the mouth. The smile can also be found around the eyes ("#Duchenne smile"; below). Among humans, it is customarily an expression denoting pleasure, happiness, or amusement, but can also be an involuntary expression of anxiety, in which case it can be known as a grimace. There is much evidence that smiling is a normal reaction to certain stimuli as it occurs regardless of culture. Happiness is most often the motivating cause of a smile. Among animals, the exposure of teeth, which may bear a resemblance to a smile, is often used as a threat or warning display - known as a snarl - or a sign of submission. In chimpanzees, it can also be a sign of fear.

Historical background

Many biologists think the smile originated as a sign of fear. Primalogist Signe Preuschoft traces the smile back over 30 million years of evolution to a "fear grin" stemming from monkeys and apes who often used barely clenched teeth to portray to predators that they were harmless. Biologists believe the smile has evolved differently among species and especially among humans.
Biology is not the only academic discipline that interprets the smile. Those who study kinesics view the smile as an affect display. It can communicate feelings such as: love, happiness, pride, contempt, and embarrassment. More info: The Psychology of Human Smile

Duchenne smile

A Duchenne smile contracts the zygomatic muscles of the cheek and eye, forming crow's feet. The crow's feet indicate that the smile is genuine and that the smiler is truly happy. It was discovered by and is named after Guillaume Duchenne.


Further reading

  • Conniff, R. (2007). What's behind a smile? Smithsonian Magazine, 38,46-53.
  • Miller, Professor George A., et. al. Overview for "smile." Retrieved 12 December 2003 from this page.
  • Ottenheimer, H.J. (2006). The anthropology of language: An introduction to linguistic anthropology. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworh.

Duchenne smile

  • Freitas-Magalhães, A. (2006). The Psychology of human smile. Oporto: University Fernando Pessoa Press.
  • Ekman, P., Davidson, R.J., & Friesen, W.V. (1990). The Duchenne smile: Emotional expression and brain psysiology II. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 342-353. Cited in: Russell and Fernandez-Dols, eds. (1997).
  • Russell and Fernandez-Dols, eds. (1997). The Psychology of Facial Expression. Cambridge. ISBN 0521587964.
smiling in German: Lächeln
smiling in Spanish: Sonrisa
smiling in French: Sourire
smiling in Hebrew: חיוך
smiling in Indonesian: Senyum
smiling in Italian: Riso (ridere)
smiling in Japanese: 微笑み
smiling in Norwegian Nynorsk: Smil
smiling in Norwegian: Smil
smiling in Polish: Śmiech
smiling in Russian: Улыбка
smiling in Simple English: Smile
smiling in Finnish: Hymy
smiling in Swedish: Leende
smiling in Vietnamese: Cười
smiling in Turkish: Tebessüm
smiling in Yiddish: שמייכל
smiling in Swedish: Smile
smiling in Korean: 미소

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

beam, beaming, beatific, beatified, blessed, blissful, blithe, blithesome, bright, bright and sunny, bright smile, broad grin, capering, cheerful, cheery, chirping, dancing, ear-to-ear grin, elated, eupeptic, euphoric, exalted, exhilarated, flushed, flushed with joy, gay, genial, glad, gladsome, gleaming smile, glowing, glowing smile, grin, grinning, happy, high, hopeful, idiotic grin, in good spirits, in high spirits, irrepressible, joyful, joyous, laughing, leaping, of good cheer, optimistic, pleasant, purring, radiant, riant, rosy, sanguine, sanguineous, sardonic grin, simper, singing, smile, smirk, smirking, sparkling, starry-eyed, stupid grin, sunny, thrice happy, toothful grin, winsome
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