smug = eingebildet, selbstgefällig, arrogant, selbstzufrieden —— smug smile = selbstgefälliges Lächeln —— smug self-satisfaction = eitle Selbstzufriedenheit



“What can SMUG Australians teach the UK about surviving a heatwave?”

UK News - The Guardian (18 July 2022)

“The BBC is trapped in its own SMUG bubble. Its employees are all like-minded, and invariably deny any left-liberal bias.”

Roy Liddle - The Spectator (29 Jan 2022)

Did you


- irritatingly pleased with oneself; offensively self-complacent, self-satisfied

- to feel too pleased or satisfied about something you have achieved or something you know

Wiktionary / The Cambridge Dictionary /


“Smug” from the 1550s, meaning “trim, neat, spruce, smart”, is possibly an alteration of Low German smuk “trim, neat,” from Middle Low German smücken “to adorn”, originally “to dress”.

The meaning “having a self-satisfied air” is from 1701, an extension of the sense of “smooth, sleek” from the 1580s, which was commonly used of attractive women and girls.


In the early 20th century, someone had the smart idea to combine the adjective "wise" (one sense of which means “insolent, arrogant, big-headed”) with "-enheimer", playing on the pattern of family names such as Oppenheimer and Guggenheimer, and suddenly, another synonym was born.

The sheer number of synonyms associated with smugness suggests a strong affinity to this idea in English, and maybe also Anglo-Saxon behaviour. Take your pick from the following much reduced list.


- having or showing an excessive pride in oneself or one’s achievements:

above oneself, aloof, arrogant, barefaced, belittling, big-headed, biggety, blowing one’s own horn (trumpet), bold-faced, bold as brass, braggy, brass-necked, brazen, brazen-faced, cocksure, cocky, conceited, condescending, denigrating, deprecatory, depreciative, derisive, derisory, derogative, derogatory, disdainful, egocentric, egoistic, egoistical, egotistic, egotistical, fancy-pants, full of hot air (oneself, yourself), glib, haughty, have an excessively high opinion of oneself, heading (riding) for a fall, high-and-mighty, high-flown, highbrow, highfalutin, hoity-toity, holier-than-thou, “I’m all right, Jack”, immodest, imperial, imperious, in love with oneself, jumped up, know-it-all, like a cat that has swallowed the canary, like the cat that’s got the cream, looking down your nose at, nose in the air, of fixed views, of preconceived ideas, on a high horse, on an ego trip, opinionated, peacockish, Pecksniffian, pleased as Punch, preachy, presumptious, priggish, puffed-up, putting on airs, resting on one’s laurels, self-admiring (-adulatory, -affected, -aggrandizing, -applauding, -approving, -centred, -complacent, -conceited, -confident, -congratulatory, -contented, -engrossed, -glorifying, -gratulatory, -loving, -obsessed, -opinionated, -pleased, -righteous, -satisfied, -serving), smart-alecky (-arsed UK, smart-assed US) guy, smarty, smarty pants, SMUG, snooty, snot-nosed, snotty, stuck-up, supercilious, superior, sure of oneself (yourself), swollen-headed, think a lot of oneself, think one is God’s gift (the cat’s pyjamas, the cat’s whiskers), think too highly of oneself, toffee-nosed, too big for your boots, toplofty, uppish, uppity, weisenheiming, well-pleased, wiseacre, wiseass, wiseguy, wisenheimer

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“He’s looking rather SMUG about being promoted and getting a bigger office.”

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Paul Smith, IBAN: DE75 7316 0000 0002 5477 40

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