from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A scornful facial expression characterized by a slight raising of one corner of the upper lip.
  • noun A scornful tone or statement.
  • intransitive verb To assume a scornful or derisive facial expression.
  • intransitive verb To speak in a scornful or derisive manner.
  • intransitive verb To utter with a sneer or in a sneering manner.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A derisive or contemptuous grin or smile; an expression of the face marked by a slight turning up of the nose, and indicating contempt; a look of scorn, disdain, or derision; hence, the feeling thus expressed.
  • noun A verbal expression of contempt; an insinuation of scorn or derision by language more or less covert and indirect.
  • noun Synonyms See sneer, v. i.
  • To grin or laugh foolishly.
  • To grin; especially and usually, to grin or smile in a contemptuous manner; express contempt by a grimace marked by slight turning up of the nose.
  • To insinuate contempt by a covert expression; use words suggestive rather than expressive of contempt; speak derisively.
  • Synonyms Scoff, Sneer, Jeer, Gibe. Scoff is the strongest word for the expression of utter contempt or abhorrence by opprobrious lauguage. To sneer is to express contempt by more or less covert sarcasm. To jeer is to try to raise a laugh by sarcastic language. To gibe is to use contemptuous, mocking, or taunting expressions.
  • To treat or address with sneers; treat with contempt; sneer at.
  • To utter with a contemptuous expression or grimace.
  • To affect in a specified way by sneering.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To show contempt by turning up the nose, or by a particular facial expression.
  • intransitive verb To inssinuate contempt by a covert expression; to speak derisively.
  • intransitive verb rare To show mirth awkwardly.
  • noun The act of sneering.
  • noun A smile, grin, or contortion of the face, indicative of contempt; an indirect expression or insinuation of contempt.
  • transitive verb To utter with a grimace or contemptuous expression; to utter with a sneer; to say sneeringly.
  • transitive verb To treat with sneers; to affect or move by sneers.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To raise a corner of the upper lip slightly, especially in scorn
  • noun A facial expression where one slightly raises one corner of the upper lip, generally indicating scorn.
  • noun A display of contempt; scorn

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb smile contemptuously
  • noun a contemptuous or scornful remark
  • noun a facial expression of contempt or scorn; the upper lip curls
  • verb express through a scornful smile


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From Middle English sneren, to mock, alteration of Old English fnǣran, to breathe heavily; see pneu- in Indo-European roots.]


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  • She wants that delicacy of tint, and mellowness of sneer, which distinguish your ladyship’s scandal.

    Sheridan, School for Scandal

    January 5, 2008

  • Eclispe by Stephenie Meyer Page 82

    -"I glanced, wide eyed, from Edwards grimace to Jacobs sneer."

    November 1, 2010

  • Sneer, a portmanteau of snort and leer.

    March 8, 2020