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I need a word to describe something like this:

picture of a face with a half smile

Disclaimer: I'm not a Smallville fan.

A half-smile or a sappy smile.

Any suggestions?

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nice picture ;) – Derfder Jun 26 '13 at 5:38
Since we can "smile broadly" why can't it be said we can "smile narrowly"? – rhetorician Jun 26 '13 at 6:45
That would be s-half-a-mile duh? – Kris Jun 26 '13 at 13:56
Try to provide a link to the image. Sometimes images are not displayed on the ELU page. – Kris Jun 27 '13 at 5:36
I agree with tender for the smile. It doesn't quite capture it, but i think it might be the closest you're gonna get in English! But if that's the look you're trying to describe I would focus more on the eyes. Like he smiled at her tenderly, like she was the only thing in the world that he can see. – Erika Wassall Feb 11 '14 at 22:09
up vote 5 down vote accepted

"Smirk"? ;) It's often used in a sarcastic way, but not always.

But I guess there is no other word for "half-smile" in English. Especially when used in romantic situations, you need to use your imagination instead and use a metaphor. " :D

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Collins is happy with half-smile

a smile that is uncertain or short-lived

A related term is sly smile

a smile that shows you know something that other people do not: "I know why Chris didn't come home yesterday," she said with a sly smile.

More often than not, such a smile has a more knowing look to the eyes and is a bit less innocent in appearance.

Another term is wry smile

using or expressing dry, especially mocking, humor

While often subtle in appearance, such a smile is often described as slightly twisted

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thefreedictionary.com/half-smile ; "A smile, but only one side of your lips curl up. It is used seductively by both guys and girls to look attractive. From across the room, he gave me a half-smile and winked." (Also, hallway smile) urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=half%20smile – Kris Jun 26 '13 at 14:00
@Kris Obviously there are different readings of half smile, and the OP is on to something, in that no term seems to exactly capture the slight dopey smile illustrated. – bib Jun 26 '13 at 14:07
Can't see the image. Asking OP for the image url. – Kris Jun 27 '13 at 5:36
Given that wry can literally mean "abnormally bent or turned to one side; twisted; crooked", I'd say "wry smile" is a perfect way to describe the half-smile in the question. – Jez Jun 27 '13 at 10:20

Yeah, I've squeezed my mind and scoured the internet, but I don't think you'll find a word in English for a smile like that. The closest you can get is a combination of words, like in Mari-Lou's list.

Other languages do have words for various degrees of smiles - beyond smirks and grins - but not English, apparently.

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Presumably you're looking for positive connotations, and linked to romanticism.

A timid / tender smile

A warm / sympathetic / fond smile

An amiable / engaging / thoughtful smile

A knowing / charming / suggestive smile

A quasi smile.

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In my writing I either say: a ghost of a smile, or more dramatically, a ghost of a smile graced his/her lips

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His lips broke into a teasing smile, with one corner hinting upwards.

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enter image description hereApologies to Leonardo, but I would suggest a Mona Lisa smile or a coy smile. Although the actor's lips are thicker, the expressions conveyed through the lips are identical.

enter image description here

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