Definition of smart alec in English:

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smart alec

Pronunciation: /ˈsmɑːtalɪk/
(chiefly North American also smart aleck) informal


A person who is irritating because they behave as if they know everything.
Example sentences
  • Why are they being smart alecks in questioning our country's laws?
  • His large physique, combined with an angry look, always stopped a smart alec commenting about his ‘skirt’.
  • The problem is, there's always a smart alec who'll ask if my first name is Eggs.
informal wise guy, smarty-pants, smarty
British informal know-all, clever clogs, clever Dick, smart-arse, smarty-boots
North American informal know-it-all, smart-ass
archaic wiseacre


Irritating as a result of behaving as if one knows everything: a smart-alec answer
More example sentences
  • One of these days I will actually answer with some smart-aleck remark and just watch as she sits there dumbfounded.
  • Ironically, instead of being a smart-alec answer, this helped her remember what she was trying to do and off she went.
  • Mrs. Alving adds the kind of smart-aleck comment that has ever been the stock-in-trade of those to whom boundaries are so irksome: ‘Well, we all stem from a relationship of that kind, so we are told.’



Example sentences
  • I'm more familiar with the extroverted, smart-alecky Spider Man than the shy, introverted Peter Parker.
  • It's all very well being smart-alecky about Burns living in an attic but, in this day and age, there's no patronage.
  • I soon regretted it, however, as what my grandfather would have called ‘a smart-alecky stunt’ and I was relieved when the tape was returned.


Mid 19th century: from smart + Alec, diminutive of the given name Alexander.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: smart alec

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