Green’s Dictionary of Slang

smart aleck n.

also smart alec, ...Alick, ...dick, ...Elick, …Ellick, wise alec, …aleck
[proper name Alec Hoag, a celebrated New York City thief of 1840s, who, with his wife Melinda and his accomplice French Jack, specialized in the panel game under panel n.1 ; for a detailed account of Hoag and his career, see Cohen (ed.), Studies in Slang I (1985)]

(orig. US) an unpleasantly conceited, smug person, esp. one who thinks themselves clever.

[US]Carson Appeal 17 Oct. 2/3: Halloa, old smart Aleck—how is the complimentary vote for Ashley? [DA].
[US]J.H. Beadle Undeveloped West 140: I had the pleasure (?) of seeing at least a score of ‘smart Alecks’ relieved of their surplus cash by betting on the ‘strap galoe,’ ‘patent lock,’ ‘ten-die game,’ ‘three-card monte’ and other beautiful uncertainties.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 141: He was a knowing sort of a chap; perhaps best described as a ‘smart aleck’.
[UK]Hull Dly Mail (Yorks.) 9 June 3/7: Smart Aleck (from College): Say, farmer, if I can prove to you that your two horses are equal to three [etc.].
Speaker’s Garland 163: SMART ALECK, an impecunious playwright.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 3 Nov. 20/3: Peacock’s act may be meant merely as a thanksgiving, but all the same it’s a big, fat bribe to do this particular smart Aleck the same kindness next trip.
[US]‘Old Sleuth’ Dock Rats of N.Y. (2006) 50: It was reported by some ‘Smart Alec’ that the detectives had been put on outgoing vessels bound for some distant port, and that in good season they would turn up.
[US]O. Johnson Varmint 54: If any of these smart Alecs can get the best of me [...] he’ll have to be up with the chickens!
[US]M.G. Hayden ‘Terms Of Disparagement’ in DN IV:iii 203: smarty, Mr. Smarty, a smart Ellick (Alec).
[US]S. Ford Torchy, Private Sec. 26: Who could talk business to a smart Alec like that!
[US]S. Lewis Babbitt (1974) 152: That’ll teach the grouches and smart alecks to respect the He-man.
[US]C. Woofter ‘Dialect Words and Phrases from West-Central West Virginia’ in AS II:8 364: There are too many smart Elicks now-a-days.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 32: ‘I hear pickings are good there,’ said the wise Alec, ‘and we can coin money.’.
[US]J.T. Farrell World I Never Made 2393: You’re a wisealeck, aren’t you? I tagged you for a wise guy the minute you walked in here, actin’ like you owned shares around here.
[UK]R. Westerby Wide Boys Never Work (1938) 87: Bill’s up to some dodge with that young Smart Aleck.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy ‘A Stranger in the Camp’ in Man From Clinkapella 25: We’ll get the games going again, and let the smart alec run the meetin’ himself.
[Aus]L. Glassop Lucky Palmer 37: Do you think a man’s a mug? I get smart alecks like you trying to put one over on me every minute of the day.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 62: When a smart alec called one of my ushers a poofter one night I was into him like a shot. I hit him on the chin and he went stern over appetite.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 124: An agitator, the sort of smart-aleck who quoted back to you the union-stevedore agreement.
[US]J. Thompson Pop. 1280 in Four Novels (1983) 379: One of these big-mouth smart-alecks.
[UK]P. Theroux Murder in Mount Holly (1999) 34: You can’t have wise-guys in a war, or smart-alecs either.
[Aus]B. Oakley Salute to the Great McCarthy 23: S’all right smart dick. He’s heading for big trouble.
[UK]R. Fabian Anatomy of Crime 193: Alec: (Smart Alec). Swindler.
[UK]N. Beagley Up and Down Under 77: This smart Alick got caught.
[Ire]J.B. Keane Bodhrán Makers 304: We are now at the mercy of every smart Alec and every gombeen man in the parish.
[UK]I. Welsh ‘A Smart Cunt’ in Acid House 209: You’re a bit of a smart [...] A smart alec. You think you know all the answers.
[Aus]J. Byrell Lairs, Urgers & Coat-Tuggers 91: ‘An aleck - or smart aleck - can be downright dangerous. One - they’re bigmouths. Two - they will shelf you or dob you in at the drop of a hat.
[UK] (con. 1938) Guardian Mag. 13 May 33: We should take care to prevent you being a smart Alec.
[Aus]P. Temple Truth 220: In that instant, Villani knew that Dove was not a mistake. He was a smart aleck but he was not a mistake.