The Communicative Implications of the smirk
Smirk is a form of smileOpens in new window characterized by turning up the corners of the mouth; it usually shows pleasure or amusement.
The smirk has been variously described as: smiling in a self-satisfied or foolish manner; a smile expressing scorn, smugness, and so on, rather than pleasure; to smile in an affected, often offensively self-satisfied manner.
George PuttenhamOpens in new window in the 16th century offered a description of the smirk, in what he called “a mock with a scornful countenance as in some smiling sort looking aside” (WikipediaOpens in new window).
A person smirks by keeping his lips pressed together in a controlled laugh. Though there may be no evidence of negativism, there will be overtones of maliciousness at times.
The smirk could also be a secret laugh, with cause of the provocation known only to the smirker. Thus, a smirk evokes insolence, scorn, or offensive smugness.