Green’s Dictionary of Slang

smart-aleck adj.

also smart-alec, smart-alecky, smart Alex, smart-Ellicky, wise-alecky
[smart aleck n.]

1. cocky, conceited, smug.

[US]F.B. Calhoun Miss Minerva n.p.: You ’bout the smart Alexist jack-rabbit they is [DA].
[US]M.G. Hayden ‘Terms Of Disparagement’ in DN IV:iii 219: smart-Alecky, -Ellicky, conceited.
[US]J. Lait ‘Canada Kid’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 176: You what used to trim smart-Alec get-rich-quick guys an’ take the dicks what come after you. You’ve flopped a long way.
[US]R. Lardner Treat ’Em Rough 120: Well 1 of the smart aleck lieuts. started out and hit the bulls eye 8 times and the target the other 2 times.
[US]S.V. Benét Young People’s Pride 50: They aren’t quite smart-alecky enough.
[US]C.E. Mulford Hopalong Cassidy Returns 51: There ain’t nothin’ smart Aleck, or sassy about him.
[US](con. 1900s) S. Lewis Elmer Gantry 48: He would knock the block off any sneering, sneaking, lying, beer-bloated bully who should dare [...] try to throw a monkey-wrench into the machinery by dragging out a lot of contemptible, quibbling, atheistic, smart-alec doubts!
[UK]J.B. Priestley Good Companions 585: I wouldn’t have minded so much if he hadn’t been so Smart Alecky about it.
[US]E. Clark Innocence Abroad 206: All the small fry are so common and smart-Alecky – that’s the only word.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 640: A [...] young fellow with a smart-aleck smirk ambled along.
[US]C. Himes ‘A Penny for Your Thoughts’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 63: He hesitated — let the smart-alecky coon get it first, he thought.
[US]F. Brown Fabulous Clipjoint (1949) 12: He’s a smart-aleck young punk who got honour grades in school and thinks he knows more than you do.
John Bingham My Name is Michael Sibley (2000) 271: Look, it won’t really pay you to make smart-alec replies, you know.
[US]J. Thompson Swell-Looking Babe 114: He was in charge here, not some smart-alecky bellboy.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 243: He hated this smart-aleck priest.
[NZ]G. Slatter Gun in My Hand 203: ‘Didn’t know you had any friends,’ he says in his smart-alec way.
[US]Mad mag. Dec. 32: Take it easy with them smart-alecky questions.
[SA]L. Nkosi Rhythm of Violence II ii: I’m bored with their smart-aleck talk!
[US]H. Rhodes Chosen Few (1966) 171: They got that smart-alecky look about them.
[US]T.C. Bambara ‘Maggie of the Green Bottles’ in Gorilla, My Love (1972) 152: All those wise-alecky responses I gave.
[US]L. Rosten Dear ‘Herm’ 135: In your Coll. Entrance Board exams you might run into some smart-Alec type question.
[UK]P. Theroux Picture Palace 155: He [...] then pursed his lips at me in smart-alecky satisfaction.
[Can]Totally True Diaries of an Eighties Roller Queen [Internet] 5 Dec. We switched shop classes and I’ve got fourth period lunch. Now I’m in welding. The teacher is a jerk. He’s a smart alec little bastard and I hate him.
[Ire]P. Boland Tales from a City Farmyard 13: He was not an educated man, but was successful in a ‘streetwise’ sort of way without being smart-alecky.
Monitor (McAllen, TX) 25 Dec. 10C/2: The middle child — the one with the best, smart-alecky lines.
[UK]Indep. Mag. 12 June 21: ‘Me?’ comes the smart-aleck response.
[US]A.N. LeBlanc Random Family 245: Leaning back in his chair like a smart-aleck boy in a boring class.
[UK]G. Malkani Londonstani (2007) 118: Your sniggering and smart-alec remarks.

2. in ext. use, of objects.

[UK]Indep. Rev. 21 Jan. 15: Note the smart-aleck banjo and sad tuba beneath the chorus – this is expert stuff.