Smile and grin

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Sev

Senior Member
France, french.
Hello,

I'd like to know what is the difference between smile and grin.

I think that grin can be used to describe either a smile that is not especially the result of pleasure or happiness, or a "happy" smile...
...whereas smile is always referring to a "happy" grin (such as in big grin :D !). But I'm not sure :confused: .

If this is true, can you use grin and smile as you wish when you want to say "a smile that shows pleasure or amusement" ?

Thanks...:) :D !
 
  • temujin

    Senior Member
    Norway / norwegian
    Hi

    I think a smile always is a "happy smile". You smile with your whole face.

    A grin would be more like trying to smile in a situation where you really cannot. You smile only with your mouth...but the eyes are saying something else...


    t.
     

    Sev

    Senior Member
    France, french.
    temujin said:
    Hi
    A grin would be more like trying to smile in a situation where you really cannot. You smile only with your mouth...but the eyes are saying something else...
    Well, a friend who is reading Harry Potter told me that "grin" is always used, and almost never "smile". And grin is used to refer to "happy smile "too.
    An exemple : a character is thinking to a girl he likes (or loves, I don't remember, anyway), and he is GRINNING. We can assume it's a hapiness grin...and it's grin...so why ?
     

    smorodina

    Senior Member
    UK
    Russian
    I use "grin" to describe an artificial smile more often then just a big
    genuine smile.

    When a dog shows its teeth, it's grinning.:D
     

    Sev

    Senior Member
    France, french.
    smorodina said:
    I use "grin" to describe an artificial smile more often then just a big
    genuine smile.

    When a dog shows its teeth, it's grinning.:D
    That's what I thought too but have a look to my previous post #3...
     

    temujin

    Senior Member
    Norway / norwegian
    I don´t know about this character in Harry Potter, but it i guess it might be a wizard or some other weird character. Then "grin" and not "smile" can be used simply as a way to characterize the person.


    t.
     

    Sev

    Senior Member
    France, french.
    temujin said:
    Then "grin" and not "smile" can be used simply as a way to characterize the person.
    Good idea. Then if we forget Harry Potter, you seem to agree with smorodina to say that "grin" is more for a smile that is not really sincere, don't you ?
     

    jacinta

    Senior Member
    USA English
    In my opinion, a grin and a smile are synonymous. The difference would be that a smile could be accompanied by sound, such as laughter or giggles whereas a grin is just the facial expression.

    A grin would be used to describe an expression that would not be a smile, such as goofy grin: "Wipe that grin off your face!" Also, a grin would not be as big as a smile. To me, a little child full of genuine happiness would have a big smile, not a grin.

    A grin could have ulterior motives behind it, such as a "shit-eating grin", used to describe someone who has done something bad and is hiding it with a grin. A smile, as it has been said, is normally only from happiness, BUT, they can be used synonymously. It would depend on the context.
     

    Sharon

    Senior Member
    United States, English
    Jacinta said:
    Also, a grin would not be as big as a smile.
    I disagree a little there. Either one can be big or small, but I think of a smile as being smaller. A smug little smile :rolleyes:, or a shy little smile:). A doubtful smile, or an embarrassed smile :eek: is small. People grin from ear to ear :D or they have a big, cheesy grin. I think that you can smile without showing your teeth; a half-hearted smile, a secretive smile ;) , or a sad, little smile, but you have to show teeth when you grin.

    I think the difference is mainly for effect, though. I think that either one can be good or bad, but I think a smile is more often good. To me, you can grin from ear to ear in in delight or in malicious amusement, but a "Five Mile Smile" is always happy and good.

    Sharon.:)
     

    gotitadeleche

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. English
    Sharon said:
    I disagree a little there. Either one can be big or small, but I think of a smile as being smaller. A smug little smile :rolleyes:, or a shy little smile:). A doubtful smile, or an embarrassed smile :eek: is small. People grin from ear to ear :D or they have a big, cheesy grin. I think that you can smile without showing your teeth; a half-hearted smile, a secretive smile ;) , or a sad, little smile, but you have to show teeth when you grin.

    I think the difference is mainly for effect, though. I think that either one can be good or bad, but I think a smile is more often good. To me, you can grin from ear to ear in in delight or in malicious amusement, but a "Five Mile Smile" is always happy and good.

    Sharon.:)
    I am in complete agreement with Sharon.
    :) = smile. :D = grin
     

    badger

    Senior Member
    Ireland, English speaker
    In my opinion a smile is always a warm, friendly, approving, loving etc facial expession.

    A grin on the other hand can also be all of these things, taken to a more intense level (an approving grin etc) but it can also convey malevolence, anger, frustration, nervousness etc.

    That's the best way that I can describe the difference as it means to me, disregarding any dictionary definitions.

    Badge. :)
     

    leenico

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. english
    In my opinion a smile is always a warm, friendly, approving, loving etc facial expession.

    A grin on the other hand can also be all of these things, taken to a more intense level (an approving grin etc) but it can also convey malevolence, anger, frustration, nervousness etc.

    That's the best way that I can describe the difference as it means to me, disregarding any dictionary definitions.
    That's the way I see it. :) :D
     

    Jonegy

    Senior Member
    UK - English
    Thinking this over I (generally) find that a smile is an involutary reaction to something whereas a grin is a mental action.

    Any Takers ???? lol
     

    Edwin

    Senior Member
    USA / Native Language: English
    badger said:
    In my opinion a smile is always a warm, friendly, approving, loving etc facial expession.
    How about a distainful smile? A demonic smile? An embarassed smile, a sardonic smile, a smile of encouragement, ...
    You all recall the Mona Lisa smile which is quite subtle. See the following link for the original Mona Lisa smile and by passing your cursor over the links to the left you can also see three other examples of smiles: with distain, most happy and merry. (and also some facial expression which are not smiles!).
    http://www.cite-sciences.fr/francais/ala_cite/expo/explora/image/mona/en.php#

    Here's another link to an article that describes 19 types of smiles: http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cach...ns/heylen.pdf+different+kinds+of+smiles&hl=en
     

    lsp

    Senior Member
    NY
    US, English
    Jonegy said:
    Thinking this over I (generally) find that a smile is an involutary reaction to something whereas a grin is a mental action.

    Any Takers ???? lol
    I can go along with this. Never thought about it but it makes sense now that I do.
     

    Edwin

    Senior Member
    USA / Native Language: English
    gotitadeleche said:
    I am in complete agreement with Sharon.
    :) = smile. :D = grin
    This is also in agreement with Online Merrian-Webster, which I think is a reasonable way to define the two words:

    Main Entry: smile
    Function: noun
    1 : a facial expression in which the eyes brighten and the corners of the mouth curve slightly upward and which expresses especially amusement, pleasure, approval, or sometimes scorn
    2 : a pleasant or encouraging appearance
    Main Entry: grin
    Pronunciation: 'grin
    Function: intransitive verb
    Inflected Form(s): grinned; grin·ning
    Etymology: Middle English grennen, from Old English grennian; akin to Old High German grennen to snarl
    : to draw back the lips so as to show the teeth especially in amusement or laughter; broadly : SMILE
     

    Marchant

    Member
    USA - English
    Wow. Personally, I've always used 'grin' differently from the dictionary's definition. To me, a 'grin' has always been akin to a 'smirk' (a small 'smile' showing no teeth).
     

    Sev

    Senior Member
    France, french.
    Well, thank you everybody. I can see that although you do not always agree, there are some interesting thoughts.

    What I can see is that I might use grin or smile whenever I want, if the context is clear. The WORD itself does not implies any special sens.

    I'll keep :
    smile for those who show amusement, happiness and so on
    grin for the larger ones and for those who are not smile !

    Maybe some would disagree but now I've got a much clearer idea of what I'm talking about.

    Thanks again ! :) :D :) :D !
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hi, "grin" is wider than "smile" and it usually exposes your teeth. :D - just like that one.
     

    daniar

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    If a 'grin', as the OED and the Macmillan Dictionary suggest, is 'a wide/big smile that shows your teeth' and 'cheesy' in the context of 'smile/grin' means 'exaggerated, wide but probably insincere', then isn't 'a cheesy grin' a tautology/redundancy?:rolleyes::D:confused:
     
    Last edited:

    lorenzogranada

    Senior Member
    English - mid-Atlantic
    A grin, for me, used to be a big, friendly smile, such as when we see kiddies playing and think they're cute and loveable. Un grand sourire, in French. But nowadays I'm seeing a lot of fake grins meant to cover up a contrary opinion or even indifference, especially to a political position. My "left-wing" friends, who really aren't all that revolutionary, will grin to suggest approval of radical positions they don't really approve of, for example. The grin can be a mask for something that you don't dare say, and what with all the ideological discord in the world right now, it's being increasingly used for that purpose. A fake smile that says "great, but don't bother me!" - un sourire hypocrite, donc. In some situations, anything looks better than having no expression on your face at all! So GRIN instead, and keep your mouth shut!
     
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