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From Middle English smoothe, smothe, smethe, from Old English smōþ, smōþe (smooth, serene, calm, unruffled) and Old English smēþe (smooth, polished, soft, without roughness or inequalities of surface, without discomfort or annoyance, suave, agreeable, avoiding offence, not irritating, not harsh, melodious, harmonious, lenitive), both from Proto-Germanic *smanþaz, *smanþiz (smooth, soft), of unknown origin. Cognate with Scots smuith (smooth), Low German smode, smoede, smoe (smooth), Low German smödig (smooth, malleable, ductile), Dutch smeuïg (smooth) (from earlier smeudig).



smooth (comparative smoother, superlative smoothest)

  1. Having a texture that lacks friction. Not rough.
    • Dryden
      The outlines must be smooth, imperceptible to the touch, and even, without eminence or cavities.
    • 2005, Lesley Brown, Sophist, translation of original by Plato:
      Teaching that’s done by talking seems to have one rough path and another part which is smoother.
  2. Without difficulty, problems, or unexpected consequences or incidents.
    We hope for a smooth transition to the new system.
    • 2011, Phil McNulty, Euro 2012: Montenegro 2-2 England [1]
      England's path to Poland and Ukraine next summer looked to be a smooth one as goals from Ashley Young and Darren Bent gave them a comfortable lead after 31 minutes.
  3. bland; glib
    • Addison
      This smooth discourse and mild behavior oft / Conceal a traitor.
    • 1912, Gustavus Myers, History of the Supreme Court of the United States[2], page 133:
      This feeling, grounded on the experience of centuries of oppression, was not to be allayed by smooth explanations on the part of the advocates of the Constitution.
  4. Flowing or uttered without check, obstruction, or hesitation; not harsh; fluent.
    • Milton
      the only smooth poet of those times
    • Alexander Pope
      Waller was smooth; but Dryden taught to join / The varying verse, the full-resounding line.
    • John Gay
      When sage Minerva rose, / From her sweet lips smooth elocution flows.
  5. (of a person) suave; sophisticated
    • 2003, T. Lewis Humphrey, The Price of Love[3], ISBN 0595272606, page 279:
      He was so smooth and handsome. He knew just what to say and when to say it.
  6. (of an action) natural; unconstrained
    • 2006, Mary Kay Moskal and Camille Blachowicz, Reading for Fluency[4], ISBN 1593852649, page 3:
      In order for a reading to be smooth and effortless, readers must be able to recognize and read words accurately, automatically, and quickly.
  7. (of a motion) unbroken
    • 1927, United States National Guard Bureau, Manual of Basic Training and Standards of Proficiency for the National Guard[5], page 181:
      Demonstrate first by the numbers and then as one smooth movement.
  8. (chiefly of water) placid, calm.
    • 1898, John Donaldson Ford, An American Cruiser in the East[6], page 47:
      As we worked to the southward, we picked up fair weather, and enjoyed smooth seas and pleasant skies.
  9. (of an edge) Lacking projections or indentations; not serrated.
    • 1994, Robert E. Swanson, A Field Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of the Southern Appalachians[7], ISBN 0801845564, page 8:
      A leaf having a smooth margin, without teeth or indentations of any kind, is called entire.
    • 1997, Christopher Dickey, Innocent Blood: A Novel[8], ISBN 0684842009, page 91:
      Out of the handles flipped the smooth blade and the serrated blade, which was dangerously sharp, the flathead screwdrivers, the Phillips screwdriver, the can opener, the awl.
  10. (of food or drink) Not grainy; having an even texture.
    • 1997, Lou Seibert Pappas, Sorbets and Ice Creams[9], ISBN 0811815730, page 19:
      A compact and stylish design, it produces 1 generous quart of excellent, smooth ice cream in 20 to 25 minutes.
  11. (of a beverage) Having a pleasantly rounded flavor; neither rough nor astringent.
    • 2002, Candace Irvin, For His Eyes Only[10], ISBN 0373079362, page 9:
      The coffee was smooth, so smooth she took another sip.
  12. (mathematics, of a function) Having derivatives of all finite orders at all points within the function’s domain.
    • 2003, Eric W. Weisstein, CRC Concise Encyclopedia of Mathematics[11], ISBN 1584883472, page 419:
      Any ANALYTIC FUNCTION is smooth. But a smooth function is not necessarily analytic.
  13. (linguistics, classical studies, of a vowel) Lacking marked aspiration.
    • 1830, Benjamin Franklin Fisk, A Grammar of the Greek Language[12], page 5:
      Ου becomes οὐκ before a smooth vowel, and οὐχ before an aspirate.



Derived terms[edit]



smooth (comparative smoother, superlative smoothest)

  1. Smoothly.
    • Shakespeare
      Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep.


smooth (plural smooths)

  1. Something that is smooth, or that goes smoothly and easily.
    • Bible, Genesis xxvii. 16
      The smooth of his neck.
    • 1860, Anne Manning, The Day of Small Things[13], page 81:
      Things are often equalized by roughs and smooths being set against one another.
  2. A smoothing action.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Thackeray to this entry?)
    • 2006, Julienne Van Loon, Road Story[14], ISBN 1741146216, page 12:
      She brushes down her hair with a little bit of spit and a smooth of her hand and opens the bright green door, walking a few metres, squinting.
  3. A domestic animal having a smooth coat.
    • 1916, William Ernest Castle and Sewall Wright, Studies of Inheritance in Guinea-pigs and Rats[15], page 104:
      In the 4-toe stock there is a wide gap between the lowest rough and the smooths which come from the same parents.
  4. A member of an anti-hippie fashion movement in 1970s Britain.
    • 1999, Peter Childs and Mike Storry, Encyclopedia of Contemporary British Culture[16], ISBN 0806991356, page 188:
      By the early 1970s, skinhead culture began to mutate into the variant ‘white ethnic’ styles of the suedeheads and smooths.
  5. (statistics) The analysis obtained through a smoothing procedure.
    • 1990, Wolfgang Härdle, Applied Nonparametric Regression[17], ISBN 0521429501, page 17:
      A smooth of the potato data set has already been given in Figure 1.2.



smooth (third-person singular simple present smooths, present participle smoothing, simple past and past participle smoothed)

  1. To make smooth or even.
    • 1961, William Gibson, The Miracle Worker[18], ISBN 0573612382, page 37:
      She smooths her skirt, looking as composed and ladylike as possible.
  2. To make straightforward.
    • 2007, Beth Kohn, Lonely Planet Venezuela (page 379)
      Caracas can be a tough place but the tremendously good-natured caraqueños smoothed my passage every step of the way.
  3. (statistics, image processing, digital audio) To capture important patterns in the data, while leaving out noise.
    • 1999, Murray R. Spiegel and Larry J. Stephens, Schaum’s Outline of Theory and Problems of Statistics[19], ISBN 0070602816, page 457:
      [] the 7-month moving averages provide better smoothing of the data in this case than do the 3-month moving averages.

Derived terms[edit]


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