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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 simpering
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Her and that simpering silly that's trotting round after her had ought to be put in a bag and shaken up, that they ought.

    Cleek, the Master Detective Thomas W. Hanshew
  • You're simpering at some hidden invention of your own, and you know it.

    Miss Pat at School Pemberton Ginther
  • "Hay has got all the money," said the simpering admirer who answered to the name of Tempest.

    The Opal Serpent Fergus Hume
  • "Dear Mamie is away, the servant tells me," she said, simpering.

    One Man's View Leonard Merrick
  • But there they are, simpering a paltry patriotism, insipid as history and ridiculous as art.

    Germany and the Germans Price Collier
  • “Ya-as,” agreed Mrs. Pritchett, simpering and looking at him sideways.

    The Girls of Hillcrest Farm Amy Bell Marlowe
  • She is as unlike that as she is unlike the simpering misses that used to surround me as a child.

    The Woman in Black Edmund Clerihew Bentley
  • "Yes, indeed," she answered, showing her white teeth in a simpering smile.

    Bat Wing Bowles Dane Coolidge
  • Leave to the laureate of sickly posiesGavami's hospital sylphs, a simpering choir!

British Dictionary definitions for simpering


(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 simpering

1580s, present participle adjective from simper (v.). Related: Simperingly.



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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