in Wacky Word Wednesday

Decades of research have shown that smiling is good for our health. But what about fake smiling? On today’s Wacky Word Wednesday, a weekly celebration of the wackiest and most interesting words from around the world, we’ll talk about the science of smiling and learn the difference between a real and a fake smile!



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One who fakes a smile

quo boteccedentesiast

Eccedentesiast is derived from Latin ecce, ‘I present to you,’ dentes, ‘teeth,’ and –iast, ‘performer.’ An eccedentesiast is therefore someone who “performs by showing teeth,” or smiling. It was coined by American novelist Florence King who referred to this term in her column ‘The Misanthrope’s Corner’ when talking about politicians and TV personalities. You can also use eccedentesiast to describe someone who tends to be reluctant when it comes to displaying genuine emotion.

So how do you spot a fake smile? According to Discovery News, you can spot one just by looking at a person’s eyes, but because smiles are easy to fake, most people are actually not very good at reading other people’s emotional states. Fake smiles often look very similar to genuine smiles but they are slightly different. Each is brought about by two different muscles, which are controlled by different parts of the brain.

The first one, the zygomaticus major, controls the corners of your mouth and is used to deliver a fake smile. The second muscle, the orbicularis oculi, encircles our eye socket and reveals a genuine smile. Scientists also call this the Duchenne smile, which is named after a French physician who studied emotional expression by stimulating various facial muscles with electrical currents.

For those who live in the public eye, brandishing fake smiles may be just another day’s work.  But don’t we all do it too? It may seem harmless, but a 2011 study published in the Academy of Management Journal suggests that an inauthentic smile to hide unhappiness can further worsen your mood.

Finally, check out a few examples below using eccedentesiast:

  • Carla’s been an eccedentesiast since the break up. (Urban Dictionary)
  • The teacher could clearly see the pain behind the eccedentesiast student. (Pinksocks’s weblog)
  • Boy, did I give that eccedentesiast working customer service something to not smile about!” (

So how good are you at spotting fake smiles? Take the test and don’t forget to tell us how you did!

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