Definition of smug in English:

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Pronunciation: /smʌɡ/

adjective (smugger, smuggest)

Having or showing an excessive pride in oneself or one’s achievements: he was feeling smug after his win
More example sentences
  • He winked at me and I wanted to knock out a few teeth in that smug smile he flashed at me.
  • The Minister can sit there with a smug smile and a smug face, and he can shake his head all that he wants to.
  • A smug smile sat on her lips as she sipped on her cranberry juice, knowing exactly what was in store.
self-satisfied, complacent, self-congratulatory, superior, puffed up, pleased with oneself, self-approving, well pleased, proud of oneself
informal goody-goody
British informal like the cat that's got the cream, I'm-all-right-Jack
North American informal wisenheimer
North American vulgar slang shit-eating


Mid 16th century (originally in the sense 'neat, spruce'): from Low German smuk 'pretty'.

  • No one likes a smug person, but in the mid 16th century they were popular. The word comes from German smuk ‘pretty’ and originally meant ‘neat or spruce’ when describing men. Not much later it was being applied to women and girls too, as in ‘She is indeed a good smug lass’, a line from a play by Thomas Otway in 1677. Another early meaning was ‘smooth’, hence Shakespeare's reference to ‘the smug and silver Trent’. Exactly when smug began to suggest complacency is difficult to pinpoint.

Words that rhyme with smug

bug, chug, Doug, drug, dug, fug, glug, hug, jug, lug, mug, plug, pug, rug, shrug, slug, snug, thug, trug, tug

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: smug

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