This is quite common with celebrities or page-3 personalities. They often smile falsely when in front of media (so as to come happy and photogenic!).

Is there any particular term for the 'smile for media'?

Note: I know the phrase 'reluctant smile' but then it refers to unwillingness and this smile is immediately caught by the opposite person. On the other hand 'media smile' is difficult to catch as it comes so natural (maybe, they are, after all, actors!).

I can say, No matter what has happened in her personal life, in her last photo, she had a media smile (not a reluctant smile, it does not fit or convey the message) on her face with no difficulty.

  • 2
    I'd use your phrase: a fake smile.
    – user230
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 8:29
  • 2
    I agree: "a fake smile" is a good phrase - and more common than "a painted smile", I'd say. Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 15:30
  • You might also consider something like the following: “She always had a smile (ready) for the camera(s).” Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 18:01

4 Answers 4


The term painted-on or just painted smile is sometimes used for this.

painted : 2. lacking substance or vitality as if produced by painting; "in public he wore a painted smile"

  • +1 that's the answer. I was looking for this word only. I'll still wait for some time.
    – Maulik V
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 5:51

Sometimes the term cheesy smile or cheesy grin is used to describe such a smile, especially if it seems forced.

The term cheesy comes from the word often invoked by photographers to get a subject to smile, as in Say "Cheese"!

  • That's interesting. +1
    – Maulik V
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 15:44

Eccedentesiast — one who fakes a smile, as on television. This word is from a list I had called Unusual Words.

To add to this:

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.


The most popular term for this (based on Google N-grams) is plastic smile:

the never changing 'cheshire cat' grin found on those wishing to: "win friends and influence people", this group would primarily include politicians and business 'people'. - urbandictionary.com

Similar to Jim's answer of painted smile and trending in popularity, is plastered smile.

Grin can be substituted for smile. Another term which has an even more negative connotation is rictus.

  • "Plastic smile" implies that it is the result of "plastic surgery" or "Botox". "Painted smile" implies that it is the result of lipstick and other make-up. Both of these kinds of (literally) "fake smiles" are common among Hollywood celebrities.
    – Jasper
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 20:15

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