I was reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and I came across the phrase "April smile." I was unable to find a meaning of this phrase using Google, so I thought I'd ask here.

Here is a quote where the phrase is found:

"Give me some more examples of the subjunctive, Rebecca, and that will do for this afternoon," she said.

"If I had not loved mackerel I should not have been thirsty;" said Rebecca with an April smile, as she closed her grammar. "If thou hadst loved me truly thou wouldst not have stood me up in the corner. If Samuel had not loved wickedness he would not have followed me to the water pail."

from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin, 1903 edition, pages 61-62.

What exactly does the author mean by "April smile" in this context? And how does it differ from a regular smile — eg. said Rebecca with a smle, as she closed her grammar. —?

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  • Another literary citation to add to OP's: A Birthday Present Say what, to please you, you would have me be.'' Then listen, dear! I fain would have you very fair to see, And sweet to hear. `You should have Aphrodite's form and face, With Dian's tread; And something of Minerva's lofty grace Should crown your head. . . . . Dec 14, 2013 at 19:49
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    Summer should wander in your voice, and Spring Gleam in your gaze, And pure thoughts ripen in your heart that bring Calm Autumn days. Yours should be winning ways that make Love live, And ne'er grow old, With ever something yet more sweet to give, Which you withhold. You should have generous hopes that can beguile Life's doubts and fears, And, ever waiting on your April smile, The gift of tears. You should be close to us as earth and sea, And yet as far As Heaven itself. In sooth, I'd have you be Just what you are.' Alfred Austin Dec 14, 2013 at 19:50
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    @MichaelOwenSartin and Laure please post your comments as answers. They are both right.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 14, 2013 at 23:11
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    @Mari-LouA: done so, but I don't usually like to give as an answer what one can easily find on the web since I'm not convinced it's what StackExchange is all about.
    – None
    Dec 15, 2013 at 9:09

1 Answer 1


Romantic poet Robert Southey used the phrase in one of his letters, as a postscript to a somewhat melancholy letter he writes :

A momentary recollection has just brought an April smile upon my cheek,...

The editor gives that definition of the phrase in a footnote:

A smile that comes after great distress, like sunshine after a storm

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