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April 2013

Alternatives for: “Smile”

Okay, so, this turned up a lot like the “said” debate. Some of the alternatives for smile just happen to be for really specific situations, and/or are often misused.

Smile is a great word, and when you try and use an alternative, said alternative often ends up being: a) wrongly used or b) ridiculous sounding. Oftentimes it’s just okay to write “he smiled” or “they smiled at each other” rather than getting "creative" with it. 

Here are some options for the word “smile”, plus their definitions so you can use them correctly. 

  • Happy expression: well, there isn’t much to do here. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
  • Beam: to smile expansively. To express by means of a radiant smile. It has a positive connotation. E.g. He beamed his approval of the new idea.
  • Closed-mouthed smile. Again, self explanatory. It can have either a positive or neutral connotation, in my opinion.
  • Crinkle eyes: I once read that a person crinkles their eyes when their smile is honest, so this would have a positive meaning.
  • Expression of friendliness/tenderness/etc.
  • Grin: It really depends. (To) grin is the action of drawing back the lips, revealing your teeth. It can be either a wide smile out of amusement, embarrassment, glee, etc, (positive)  or a grimace (negative connotation for this case). 
  • Leer: To look with a sidelong glance, indicative especially of sexual desire or sly and malicious intent. (mostly a negative connotation)
  • Mug: slang for a grimace and/or face.
  • Pleased look
  • Show off dimples
  • Show some teeth
  • Simper: To smile in a silly, self-conscious, often coy manner.

The deal with “smirk” 

  • It has a rather negative connotation.
  • It is not a positive, friendly smile, so it is not a (positive) substitute for it.
  • It can be both a verb or a noun yet it is prefered not to overuse as a verb 
  • I would define it as a “smug, condescending, mocking” kind of smile.

Good, glad we’ve cleared this out.


#vocabulary   #words   #word list   #smile   #writing help   #rfwpost   
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