Definition of sneer in US English:



  • A contemptuous or mocking smile, remark, or tone.

    ‘he acknowledged their presence with a condescending sneer’
    • ‘She explains, still gracious though with a slight sneer to her smiling nature this time.’
    • ‘He showed a very strange smile, almost a sneer before crouching a bit down so that he was face to face with me.’
    • ‘She got sneers, insults, and hateful looks all day, not to mention suggestive ones from the male population, but she had just ignored them.’
    • ‘And so I thought that the massive sneer with which his remarks were greeted was unjustified.’
    • ‘At no moment does he pass up the chance of a cheap sneer or a jeer.’
    • ‘Most of the time he fell back on cold disdainful looks and mocking sneers, which were working out pretty well.’
    • ‘When Sean was safely out of earshot, he allowed his upper lip to curl into the slightest sneer.’
    • ‘I turned the sneer into a smile, and not for the first time my mother was unable to return it.’
    • ‘Then his mouth twisted into something that was a mixture of a sneer and a smile.’
    • ‘Twelve guards entered the room, scowls and sneers on their faces.’
    • ‘They'll have to put up with our weapon of choice: the condescending sneer.’
    • ‘He smiled at her, and she almost mistook it for a sneer, for the smile did not reach his eyes.’
    • ‘His bitter frown transformed itself into a sneer and then a contemptuous smile.’
    • ‘I was instantly flanked by two guards with a countenance of half sneers, half smiles on their faces.’
    • ‘I pointed in both directions when appropriate, my lips curling slightly in a sneer.’
    • ‘The woman strode past him with a disdainful sneer and entering the temple, glanced about.’
    • ‘The director keeps the camera close to their faces, and the scenes are played out with smiles, winces, sneers, vulgarities, long pauses, shrugs, inane repetitions, dartings, and aversions of the eyes.’
    • ‘But the air was just as thick with the old sneers and jeers.’
    • ‘A tingling feeling crept over his form, and an arrogant sneer then crept over his face.’
    • ‘And the smile soon subsided to a slight sneer, as if she had seen that look in a million men's eyes before.’
    curl of one's lip, curl of the lip, disparaging smile, contemptuous smile, smug smile, conceited smile, cruel smile, mirthless smile, smirk, snicker, snigger
    jibe, barb, jeer, taunt, insult, cutting remark, slight, affront, slur, insinuation
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[no object]
  • Smile or speak in a contemptuous or mocking manner.

    ‘she had sneered at their bad taste’
    with direct speech ‘“I see you're conservative in your ways,” David sneered’
    • ‘He sneered and shared a conspiratorial wink with someone over my shoulder.’
    • ‘He positively sneered at me when I announced I was going to take guitar lessons.’
    • ‘Their anger was a pose, and the pose made a lot of people a lot of money, even as it sneered at the commercialisation of mainstream pop and rock.’
    • ‘He smiled and she sneered at him, then took a sip of coffee and returned to poking her eggs.’
    • ‘He looked round at me and I swear to this day he sneered at me.’
    • ‘Both know how to ask worthwhile questions and to draw an interviewee out without sneering at them.’
    • ‘Far from sneering at our obsolete goods, they'd be raving about all our fabulous antiques.’
    • ‘Far better that he languishes forgotten, which would punish him, rather than give him attention by sneering at him.’
    • ‘He was contemptuous and sneering in pointing out that we were in the wrong carriage.’
    • ‘When I said that few people make real choices about their lives she sneered contemptuously at me.’
    • ‘Their efforts will deserve credit, not sneering from the sidelines.’
    • ‘Surely the whole event reeked of the political correctness that you've made a fortune from sneering at?’
    • ‘Top-hatted footmen guard the entrances, sneering politely at the clientele and keeping the passing rabble at bay.’
    • ‘They have long sneered at the US laws on internet gaming, arguing they were unenforce-able.’
    • ‘We asked their staff to buy the paper and they sneered in my face.’
    • ‘Here we may be sneering at the devaluation of the single currency, but in Germany they're laughing all the way to the export markets.’
    • ‘The people sneered and mocked me as I descended down the stairs.’
    • ‘She spent most of the time sneering down her nose at people.’
    • ‘His stunning voice has always had a caustic force behind it, almost as if he's sneering and laughing all at once.’
    • ‘Thus it's easier to regain the high ground by laughing or sneering, or complaining about art getting in the way of commuters.’
    curl one's lip, smile disparagingly, smile contemptuously, smile smugly, smile conceitedly, smile cruelly, smile mirthlessly, smirk, snicker, snigger
    scoff at, scorn, be contemptuous of, treat with contempt, hold in contempt, disdain, mock, jeer at, gibe at, ridicule, deride, taunt, insult, make cutting remarks about, slight, affront
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Late Middle English: probably of imitative origin.