Top Ten Kinds of Smiles


My friend Christine from Oxford

“Did someone send you a nice text message?” My roommate just inquired. With a little laugh, I shook my head. However, her words stayed with me and made me wonder about smiles.

There are many types of smiles. We all grin, smirk, and beam for different reasons. This is rather confusing to me with Aspergers. I just want to know what is going on in someone’s head. Yet, there is also a beauty in the diversity of smiles.

My friends Tina, Lorena, and Megan

My friends Tina, Lorena, and Megan from Oxford

This list is certainly not meant to be all-encompassing with each type of smile that there is included. Instead, I hope that it brightens your day and helps you if, like me, you struggle to read the facial expressions of people around you.

  1. The beam of utter joy – These smiles exude light and happiness. Every person looks a bit different, but this is usually the most beautiful smile of all.
  2. The impish smirk – Oh dear. This means trouble. Well, usually it means that someone is a bit mischievous, not up to real malice. Little children often have this, but adults seem to think it is too immature.
  3. The accomplished smile – Often accompanied by a nod or similar gesture, one does this after finishing something difficult or successfully completing a task. There can be a smidgen of smugness, relief, and/or weariness.
  4. The smug grin – One does this in a similar situation to the accomplished smile but with a twinge of pride for beating something or someone. This might sound mean, but it can be just a sense of victory over having defeated your old time running a mile or racking up points in a video game. Too often, however, it is directed at someone else to remind them of your accomplishment.
  5. The superior smirk – This is one of the most confusing smiles for me. Like the smug grin, this person feels victorious. Instead of potentially being at an object, this smile is at a person in hopes to make belittle and shame. Although it might look nice, there is a sense of domination in this facial expression.
  6. The awkward half-smile – This often happens when you are unsure if you should smile or stay serious. Thus, you choose something in-between the two and usually feel silly afterward.
  7. The nervous giggle – I used to do this in embarrassing and awkward situations. To be honest, it is probably a habit that I still have. When situations are tense, confusing, or frightening, some people use this to cope.
  8. The polite smile – We all do this at times. Laughter is necessary or at least a quick smile. So, we force on a good face while thinking about something else or secretly being annoyed with the situation.
  9. Callie

    My friend Callie from Oxford

    Painted-on grin – Once again, everyone uses this at least a few times. When in deep pain, many people mask it with a cheerful face. So many people that I know with depression struggle with this type of smile.

  10. The duck and blush beam – Couples attracted to each other do this all of the time at first. It is as if the smile is so powerful that you cannot really look the other person’s too deeply.

What types of smiles would you add to this list? I would love to hear from you in the comments.


6 thoughts on “Top Ten Kinds of Smiles

  1. bmagpub says:

    I would like to add the contented grin – fitting just under utter joy. It’s the “I’m snuggled down and toasty warm”, or “this ‘smore is delicious”, I happily nestled with my favourite …., and I’m enjoying it”. Have a great day. 🙂

  2. mary says:

    The friendly smile- It simply tells the person with whom one is doing some business (store clerk/cafeteria server etc) and I am either having a good day or I recognize you as a human being. The direction of focus is the other person’s eye but it is kept from being creepy by the very short duration of that focus. One looks into the other person’s eye for about half a second and as you smile and then looks away still smiling. If the distance between you is more then 10 feet (usually this only happens outdoors) and you are in the midwest you can keep looking at them for as long as it takes to do a quick wave, (if you keep smiling/looking longer then that they will think you have something you want to say to them).

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