Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.
One who makes jokes and uses sarcasm in an attempt to seem witty, but instead is deemed annoying. I'd had enough of that smart aleck's wisecracks, so I left the party early. Don't be such a smart alec, Sally.
See also: smart
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
An impudent or obnoxiously self-assertive individual, a wise guy, as in New teachers often have a hard time coping with the smart alecks in their classes. This expression, dating from the mid-1800s, probably alluded to a person of this description who was named Alec or Alexander, but his identity has been lost.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
a smart alecBRITISH or
a smart aleck
A smart alec or a smart aleck is someone who is very clever and who is often able to answer questions in a clever way. Note: People sometimes spell `alec' and `aleck' with capital initials, as names. They've got some smart alec of a lawyer from London to oppose bail. Note: You can use smart alec and smart aleck before a noun. I hate smart-aleck kids who talk like dictionaries. Note: You use this expression to show that you find someone annoying. Note: Alec or Aleck is a shortened form of the name Alexander.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
a ˈsmart alec/aleck(informal, disapproving) a person who tries to show that they are cleverer than everyone else: Some smart alec wrote in to say that the last edition of the newspaper contained 37 printing errors.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
smart aleck, a
A cocky individual who thinks he or she knows everything and is not shy about saying so. The origin of this term, an American colloquialism from the 1860s, has been lost; no one knows who that first Aleck (or Alexander) was. The adjective smart in the sense of “impudent” is much older (fifteenth century) but has died out except in this expression. Budd Schulberg used it in What Makes Sammy Run? (1941): “He’s a smart aleck. I can see already he thinks he knows more than I do.”
See also: smart
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer