Saturday, July 22, 2006


An old friend asked me recently what the word smarmy means. I use it and I like it for its huge onomatopoeic value.

I always figured the word indicated a general moral or aesthetic unwholesomeness, with hygienic or sexual connotations.

I was wrong. Smarmy refers to a particular kind of unwholesomeness. It means overly ingratiating.

The Online Etymology Dictionary gives us this.

"ingratiating, unctuous," 1924, from smarm "to behave in a flattering way" (1920), variant of colloquial smalm, smawm (1847) "to smear, bedaub" (the hair, with pomade) of unknown origin.

So I need a new word. Pervy comes close. Of or pertaining to a perv.

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