I have heard this claim many times

You use 14 muscles to smile and 43 to frown

But I have never seen any actual proof of this and always assumed it was just one of those midwest folksy sayings.

Is there any truth too it?

  • Definitely not a "miswest" saying - I heard it in USSR. NOT the midwestern part of it, either :)
    – user5341
    Oct 23, 2011 at 20:59
  • 1
    This was a question on QI (British quiz show) recently, they said this statement is incorrect and you do indeed use more muscles to smile than to frown. Oct 24, 2011 at 1:19
  • 3
    This saying always reminds me of: "And it only takes (some small number) of muscles to extend your middle finger and flip someone the bird." Seeing as we have a good answer from Oliver on smile/frown, anyone have a chart for flipping the bird? :) Oct 24, 2011 at 1:42
  • my favourite response was always one which related to the number of muscles used to punch someone in the face for forwarding rubbish on the internet. Of course that number is also made up. Jan 8, 2016 at 11:00

1 Answer 1



The chart above is from Wikipedia,

It is difficult to determine exactly how many muscles are involved in smiling or frowning as there is a wide range of facial expressions that might be considered a frown or a smile.

which sources The Straight Dope,

Deciding which of the 53 facial muscles are important in smiling or frowning is a bit arbitrary--many make only minor contributions, and depending on the intensity of the expression may not be involved at all.

who got it from plastic surgeon and professor at the University of Chicago Hospitals David H. Song.

  • Grand total for smiling: 12

  • Grand total for frowning: 11


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .