Feeling or showing excessive satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



self-satisfied, complacent, conceited, arrogant, proud, superior, haughty, vainglorious, cocky, egotistical.


Humble, modest, self-effacing, unassuming, embarrassed, guilty, ashamed, regretful.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun smugness, smugnesses
Verb None
Adjective smug
Adverb smugly

Example Sentences

  • After getting promoted, David became smug and started to act as if he was better than everyone else at work.

  • Jane’s smug smile when she corrected her friend’s grammar mistake showed how pleased she was with her own language skills.

  • The smug attitude of the politician during the debate made many voters feel that he was insincere and dishonest.

  • The successful businessman looked smugly at his competitors as they struggled to keep up.


Smug is a versatile adjective that can be used to describe a person’s attitude or behavior. The word often implies an excessive amount of self-satisfaction, along with a sense of superiority or condescension toward others. Smug can be used to describe someone who is overly pleased with their accomplishments or status, and who flaunts these achievements in a way that is irritating to others. It can also be used to describe someone who is gloating, arrogant, or self-important.

The prefix “s” in smug is believed to have originated from the Old Norse word “smyg,” which means to slip or to put on a disguise. The suffix “ug” is thought to have originated from the Old Norse word “ugga,” which means to fear or to dread. Together, these two elements combine to form the word smug, which suggests the idea of someone who is hiding something or putting on a façade of confidence.

There are several variations of the word smug that can be used to add nuance or emphasis to the meaning. For example, the suffix “-ly” can be added to create the adverb “smugly,” which is often used to describe how someone is behaving when they are feeling overly satisfied with themselves. The prefix “un-” can also be added to create the opposite of smug, which is “unsmug.” This word describes someone who is humble, modest, or unassuming.

Overall, smug is a forceful and descriptive adjective that is used to convey an individual’s excessive self-confidence and arrogance. It is also a powerful tool for describing a behavior that is considered annoying or irritating to others. Whether used to describe a person or an action, the word smug serves as a potent reminder to remain humble and self-effacing in our interactions with others.