Definition of smart in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /smɑːt/


1(Of a person) clean, tidy, and well dressed: you look very smart
More example sentences
  • The man is described as being of smart appearance, 5ft 11 in, of slim to medium build, with short, brown hair brushed forward.
  • But the burglars have often been described as in their late teens or early 20s, of smart appearance and well spoken with a local accent.
  • Charlotte de Rosnay - who lived near Miss Dando - said the man's overall appearance was smart.
1.1(Of clothes) attractively neat and stylish: a smart blue skirt
More example sentences
  • Bacon's not-quite-leading-male good looks are complemented with nondescript, reasonably smart clothes and a neat haircut.
  • There came to the door, very late one evening a very shy, middle-aged man, very neat, smart suit, shirt and tie - he had just been thrown out of the family home where enough had been enough.
  • The female who turns up wearing neat, smart clothing with well-groomed hair, fingernails and make-up?
1.2(Of an object) bright and fresh in appearance: a smart green van
More example sentences
  • Feathering should be trimmed every few months, both to give the dog a smart appearance and to repel the grime that seems to accumulate there.
  • The new car has the appeal of fresh looks and a smart interior.
  • The local pub has just won Fuller's Pub of the Year competition, for the quality of its ales, smart appearance, ambient atmosphere and good food.
1.3(Of a place) fashionable and upmarket: a smart restaurant
More example sentences
  • Ayrshire - the birthplace of our national bard and producer of possibly the best bacon in Scotland - is coming into its own as a startlingly smart place to live.
  • I have been to a very smart place called Century on Shaftesbury Ave.
  • You can have lots of ugly old photo frames, with masses of pics of yourself in smart places or with famous people.
fashionable, stylish, high-class, exclusive, chic, fancy;
British  upmarket;
North American  high-toned
informal trendy, posh, ritzy, plush, plushy, classy, swanky, glitzy, fancy-pants
British informal swish
North American informal swank, tony
US informal dicty
South African informal larney
derogatory chichi
2 informal Having or showing a quick-witted intelligence: if he was that smart he would never have been tricked
More example sentences
  • He's really, really smart - intellectually curious, thoughtful, creative, you name it.
  • The sad part is that the present head and deputy head of the nation are by far the most intelligent and smart pair of leaders we have had for a long period of time.
  • I would just like to say that I think Owen's a very smart and intelligent kind of gentleman.
clever, bright, intelligent, sharp, sharp-witted, quick-witted, nimble-witted, shrewd, astute, acute, apt, able;
well educated, well read;
perceptive, percipient, discerning
informal brainy, savvy, streetwise, on the ball, quick on the uptake, genius
North American informal whip-smart
2.1(Of a device) programmed so as to be capable of some independent action: hi-tech smart weapons
More example sentences
  • Alexa is a smart computer system capable of hearing and responding to the human voice.
  • Just like in all the science fiction scenarios in which the machines take over and do all sort sorts of nasty things, a truly smart machine will be capable of being a truly evil machine.
  • Their suit accused gun makers of ignoring safety devices and smart gun technology that would prevent unauthorized shooters like Myles' killer.
2.2chiefly North American Showing impertinence by making clever or sarcastic remarks: don’t get smart or I’ll whack you one
More example sentences
  • Although Freyen was more of a laid-back character, Marlo completed the duo with his smart remarks and sarcastic jokes.
  • Everything is smart and sarcastic and divisive and nasty and cutesy.
  • Then, we'd probably make a smart remark about his daughter's driving skills.
3Quick; brisk: he set off at a smart pace
More example sentences
  • We galloped out of Vals at a smart pace and made the 124 Km quite easily in the prescribed 2 1/2 hours.
  • In the first place, we must accept that the purely biographical narratives are compressed accounts: they are stories, and they are stories which march at a smart pace.
  • They were wondering why the PM shut the MP up quick smart when he said something similar to what they're thinking.
brisk, quick, fast, rapid, swift, lively, spanking, energetic, spirited, vigorous, jaunty
informal snappy, cracking, rattling
sharp, severe, forceful, violent;


[no object]
1(Of part of the body) feel a sharp stinging pain: her legs were scratched and smarting (as adjective smarting) Susan rubbed her smarting eyes
More example sentences
  • A nervous-looking soldier had given her the wound, and she smarted at the pain it was causing her.
  • Tamara, still smarting with pain, just cried as Penelope walked out of the house in jealous rage and did not return.
  • Her eyes actually smarted with pain as she looked at it and Jade realized she had not felt the sun on her back for at least three days.
sting, burn, tingle, prickle;
hurt, ache
1.1Feel upset and annoyed: defence chiefs are still smarting from the government’s cuts
More example sentences
  • The Audit Commission has extended an olive branch to the Council chiefs who are still smarting after the authority was branded ‘weak.’
  • Clarets chief Cotterill was smarting after seeing referee Colin Webster ignore his side's appeals for two late spot kicks after Ian Moore had already missed a late penalty.
  • This was on top of the fact that at that time he was smarting from various other frustrations with Singapore and perhaps some of the other ASEAN members.
feel annoyed, feel upset, feel offended, take offence, feel aggrieved, feel indignant, feel put out, feel hurt, feel wounded, feel resentful


1 [mass noun] Sharp stinging pain: the smart of the recent cuts
1.1 archaic Mental pain or suffering: sorrow is the effect of smart, and smart the effect of faith
2 (smarts) North American informal Intelligence; acumen: I don’t think I have the smarts for it
More example sentences
  • It's intellectual property, smarts, and service that are our ‘products.’
  • Realize and seek out the truth that while there may indeed be gradients of intelligence, that intelligence and smarts come in many, many forms and applications.
  • I am not entirely comfortable with the implication that feeling like a fraud or an imposter with regards to intelligence or smarts or academic achievement is something that is unique to women or more prevalent in women.



(as) smart as a whip

informal, chiefly North American Very quick-witted and intelligent: despite some of the things he says, he’s smart as a whip
More example sentences
  • He's smart as a whip, so there's nothing he can't learn.
  • I also remember something else about Todd: he was smart as a whip.
  • She was smart as a whip, but never got a chance to go to college.

look smart

chiefly British Be quick: come up here, and look smart about it!
More example sentences
  • Still he was banging on, ‘We had to dress smart and look smart.’
  • Nurses can't tell people to sit up straight and look smart.
  • It is difficult to recall a solitary chance worth the name in the opening 45 minutes, although centre forward Paul Walker at least required St Mirren goalkeeper Craig Hinchcliffe to look smart after he had dispatched a low 20 yarder.
be quick, hurry up, speed up
informal make it snappy, get cracking, get moving, step on it, step on the gas, rattle one's dags
British informal get one's skates on, stir one's stumps
North American informal get a wiggle on
South African informal put foot



Example sentences
  • He slapped her smartingly before speaking, ‘Don't act so high and mighty, my Lady.
  • Shakir joined wildly in the sport, but would smartingly punish a liberty.
  • It was smartingly raw and sophisticated at the same time, blurting out unsayable stuff and short-circuiting it with a wink.


Pronunciation: /ˈsmɑːtnəs/
Example sentences
  • And the sight never failed to fill you with excitement that soon you would be caught up by the city's noise, energy, brashness, ebullience, smartness and wit.
  • Who knew Webster's would define ‘dowdy’ as ‘lacking in smartness or taste’?
  • At the end, I was greatly impressed by the smartness and keenness of all of them, and by the firmness and intelligence of their questions.


Old English smeortan (verb), of West Germanic origin; related to German schmerzen; the adjective is related to the verb, the original sense (late Old English) being 'causing sharp pain'; from this arose 'keen, brisk', whence the current senses of 'mentally sharp' and 'neat in a brisk, sharp style'.

  • The first English use of smart was as a verb meaning ‘be painful’, which survives in the verb meaning ‘to feel a sharp, stinging pain in a part of the body’—its root is probably related to Latin mordere ‘to bite’. The original meaning of the adjective was ‘causing sharp pain’, which led to ‘keen or brisk’ and developed into the current senses of ‘mentally sharp, clever’ and ‘neat, well turned out’. We probably call an irritating person who always has a clever answer a smart alec after Alex Hoag, a notorious thief and conman in New York in the 1840s, who earned the nickname Smart Alex from his reputation for not getting caught. In the late 17th century smart money was money paid to sailors and soldiers to compensate them for wounds. Smart here meant ‘physical pain’. Modern usage, from around 1900, refers to money bet by people with expert knowledge, with smart meaning ‘quick-witted’. The sugar-coated chocolate sweets called Smarties were launched in 1937. Because of their similar appearance to pills, doctors are sometimes accused of handing out drugs ‘like Smarties’.

Words that rhyme with smart

apart, apparat, art, baht, Bart, Barthes, cart, carte, chart, clart, dart, Eilat, fart, ghat, Gujarat, Gujrat, hart, Harte, heart, heart-to-heart, impart, Jat, kart, kyat, Maat, Mansart, mart, outsmart, part, quarte, salat, savate, Scart, start, tart, zakat

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: smart

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.