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[sim-per] /ˈsɪm pər/
verb (used without object)
to smile in a silly, self-conscious way.
verb (used with object)
to say with a simper.
a silly, self-conscious smile.
Origin of simper
1555-65; akin to Middle Dutch zimperlijc, dialectal Danish simper affected, Danish sippe affected woman, orig. one who sips (see sip), a way of drinking thought to be affected
Related forms
simperer, noun
simperingly, adverb
unsimpering, adjective
1, 3. smirk, snigger, snicker. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for simper
Historical Examples
  • "That is the author of 'Love in a Cloud,'" she said with a simper of self-consciousness.

    Love in a Cloud Arlo Bates
  • "Suppose he wishes to imitate the Duke of Marlborough," says simper.

    Roundabout Papers William Makepeace Thackeray
  • The plump Phbe rose after many hesitations, and, with a simper and a blush and pretty air of fright, took the ministers arm.

    Salem Chapel, v.1/2 Mrs. Oliphant
  • And with a simper I left my gallant and dapper cavalier to pay the bill.

    Caught by the Turks Francis Yeats-Brown
  • They might gabble in a corner to each other and simper and giggle and pretend, but they were ballet-hoppers.

    Carnival Compton Mackenzie
  • Horatio did not like the sisters; he called them in his simple way "Giggle" and "simper."

    One Woman's Life Robert Herrick
  • She satirizes human foibles and weaknesses, showing ghosts that gossip and gormandize, simper and swear as they did in life.

  • Lily said, with the simper proper when speaking to strangers.

    The Vehement Flame Margaret Wade Campbell Deland
  • Amelie was not fool enough to take this as a compliment, or to simper acknowledgments.

    The Relentless City Edward Frederic Benson
  • Perhaps he would be wiser if he married me,” she said with a simper; “but of course middle-aged men prefer young girls.

    The New Mistress George Manville Fenn
British Dictionary definitions for simper


(intransitive) to smile coyly, affectedly, or in a silly self-conscious way
(transitive) to utter (something) in a simpering manner
a simpering smile; smirk
Derived Forms
simperer, noun
simpering, adjective, noun
simperingly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: probably from Dutch simper affected
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for simper

1560s, "to smile in an affected and silly way," perhaps from a Scandinavian source (e.g. dialectal Danish semper "affected, coy, prudish") or Middle Dutch zimperlijk "affected, coy, prim," of unknown origin. Related: Simpered; simpering. As a noun, 1590s, from the verb.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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