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See also: Simper



Uncertain; compare (probably from[1]) Danish simper / semper (coy), German zimper (elegant, dainty).



simper (third-person singular simple present simpers, present participle simpering, simple past and past participle simpered)

  1. (intransitive) To smile in a foolish, frivolous, self-conscious, coy, obsequious, or smug manner.
    • 1915, Harold MacGrath, chapter 24, in The Voice In The Fog:
      How the fools kotowed and simpered while I looked over their jewels and speculated upon how much I could get for them!
    • 1940, “Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered”, Lorenz Hart (lyrics), Richard Rodgers (music):
      a whimpering, simpering child
    • 1986, John le Carré, A Perfect Spy:
      But where daft Nell simpers at him and tries to muss his slicked hair and pull it forward over his broad, Christian brow, my little Dot is looking nowhere but at the ground, still praying, praying even while she stands, and Rick has actually to touch her forearm with his finger in order to alert her to his Godlike nearness.
  2. (obsolete) To glimmer; to twinkle.
    • 1633, George Herbert, The Search:
      Yet can I mark how stars above / Simper and shine.

Derived terms[edit]



simper (plural simpers)

  1. A foolish, frivolous, self-conscious, or affected smile; a smirk.
    • 1843 April, Thomas Carlyle, “Ch. 2, St. Edmundsbury”, in Past and Present, American edition, Boston, Mass.: Charles C[offin] Little and James Brown, published 1843, →OCLC, book II (The Ancient Monk):
      Yes, another world it was, when these black ruins, white in their new mortar and fresh chiselling, first saw the sun as walls, long ago. Gauge not, with thy dilettante compasses, with that placid dilettante simper, the Heaven's—Watchtower of our Fathers, the fallen God's—Houses, the Golgotha of true Souls departed!
    • 1972, Eric Ambler, The Levanter, published 2009, →ISBN, page 158:
      He paused, and then a strange expression appeared on his lips. It was very like a simper.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2024) “simper”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.