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  • IPA(key): /smæk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æk

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English smac, smak, smacke, from Old English smæc, smæċċ (taste, smatch), from Proto-Germanic *smakkuz (a taste), from Proto-Indo-European *smegʰ-, *smeg- (to taste). Cognate with English dialectal smatch, Scots smak (scent, smell, taste, flavour), Saterland Frisian Smoak (taste), West Frisian smaak (taste), Dutch smaak (taste), German Schmack, Geschmack (taste), Swedish and Norwegian smak (taste), Norwegian smekke . Akin to Old English smæċċan (to taste, smack). More at smake, smatch.


smack (countable and uncountable, plural smacks)

  1. A distinct flavor, especially if slight.
    rice pudding with a smack of cinnamon
    • 1896, A. E. Housman, “Terence, this is stupid stuff”, in A Shropshire Lad:
      But take it: if the smack is sour / The better for the embittered hour;
  2. A slight trace of something; a smattering.
  3. (slang, uncountable) Heroin.
  4. (Northern England) A form of fried potato; a scallop.
Derived terms[edit]


smack (third-person singular simple present smacks, present participle smacking, simple past and past participle smacked)

  1. (transitive) To get the flavor of.
  2. (intransitive) To indicate or suggest something; used with of.
    Her reckless behavior smacks of pride.
  3. (intransitive) To have a particular taste; used with of.
    • 1820-25, Charles Lamb, Essays of Elia
      He had his tea and hot rolls in a morning, while we were battening upon our quarter-of-a-penny loaf — our crug — moistened with attenuated small beer, in wooden piggings, smacking of the pitched leathern jack it was poured from.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Smacks in a painting by Carlton Theodore Chapman, ca 1890 (Brooklyn Museum of Art).

From Middle Low German smack (Low German Schmacke, Schmaake (small ship)) or Dutch smak, perhaps ultimately related to smakken, imitative of the sails' noise.


smack (plural smacks)

  1. A small sailing vessel, commonly rigged as a sloop, used chiefly in the coasting and fishing trade and often called a fishing smack
  2. A group of jellyfish.



Etymology 3[edit]

From Middle Dutch smacken, of imitative origin.

Akin to German schmatzen (eat noisily), Dutch smakken (to fling down), Plautdietsch schmaksen (to smack the lips), regional German schmacken, Schmackes (vigour) (compare Swedish smak (slap), Middle Low German smacken, the first part of Saterland Frisian smakmuulje (smack)).


smack (plural smacks)

  1. A sharp blow; a slap. See also: spank.
  2. The sound of a loud kiss.
    • c. 1590–1592, William Shakespeare, “The Taming of the Shrew”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene ii]:
      he took the bride about the neck. And kissed her lips with such a clamorous smack.
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, H.L. Brækstad, transl., Folk and Fairy Tales, page 178:
      Then he told them of the princess, how she came to him, and how much she had to kiss him to get the whistle, when nobody saw or heard it over in the wood - "I must get on with these lies if the vat is to be full," said Ashiepattle, - so he told them about the queen, how stingy she was with the money and how liberal she was with kisses, that one could hear the smacks all over the wood.
  3. A quick, sharp noise, as of the lips when suddenly separated, or of a whip.
Derived terms[edit]


smack (third-person singular simple present smacks, present participle smacking, simple past and past participle smacked)

  1. To slap or hit someone.
  2. To make a smacking sound.
    • 1832, Banjamin Disraeli, Contarini Fleming
      A horse neighed, and a whip smacked, there was a whistle, and the sound of a cart wheel.
  3. (New Zealand) To strike a child (usually on the buttocks) as a form of discipline. (US spank)
  4. To wetly separate the lips, making a noise, after tasting something or in expectation of a treat.
    • 1763, Robert Lloyd, “A Familiar Epistle” in St. James Magazine:
      But when, obedient to the mode / Of panegyric, courtly ode / The bard bestrides, his annual hack, / In vain I taste, and sip and smack, / I find no flavour of the Sack.
  5. To kiss with a close compression of the lips, so as to make a sound when they separate.


smack (not comparable)

  1. As if with a smack or slap; smartly; sharply.
    Right smack bang in the middle.
Derived terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]




smack n

  1. (in the phrase "inte ett smack") smidgeon, piece, small bit

See also[edit]