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デジタル大辞泉 defines しめしめ as follows:


I get the first part ("When something has gone as you planned for it to go..."), but I'm a bit confused about the usage implied by the latter part ("Something that is said when one is secretly pleased"). The example isn't helping - is しめしめ something that you can just sort of say outside the context of a sentence as an interjection? It doesn't appear to be acting adverbially there, at minimum.

Like, if I've just... say, solved a math problem, and I'm pleased with myself, could I just say 「しめしめ!」 by itself to express my pleasure?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

It is an interjection (感動詞), as indicated in the dictionary definition. So you can use it as such. You could say just しめしめ、、、 for example, with the "remaining" part (explaining the interjection) implied. As you could say just やれやれ for example.

But as you noticed, it is more something one says to himself (even if it is voiced), so you wouldn't express it in the same way as やった! for example, which you could also shout to the whole world to hear. A bit like a chuckle is not really for others to hear for example. You would typically picture someone using this interjection as grinning. There's more details about this part of the definition here:


On the meaning itself:

しめしめ has been abbreviated from 占めた which is can be used exactly the same (as an interjection) and has the same meaning. It gives more insight into the meaning though:


占めた is used as "having made one's", as in "having mastered / pwned something or someone". So you could use it when you figured out a problem or when you caught someone in your trap for example.

しめしめ、私の作戦通りだ。 (source: alc)

しめた,この問題なら解けるぞ (source)

As a last note, it can also be used in anticipation for such an outcome:


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Oh, the 感 in brackets means 感動詞? You learn (and notice) something new every day... – senshin May 5 '14 at 21:45
Seems so, I'll admit I had never really taken notice either... – desseim May 5 '14 at 21:48

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