Grace and poise refer to a pleasing quality of ease and self-control in the way a person moves, carries themselves, or conducts themselves. Grace suggests these qualities enhanced by elegance, dignity, or beauty: a catlike grace; withdraw with grace. Poise emphasizes composure, self-control, and calmness in deportment and manner, more than elegance or beauty. Many of the same verbs are used with poise as are used with “balance.” People lose, maintain, regain, and recover their poise in challenging situations. As a personal attribute, grace goes a little deeper, as it involves generally prized values, such as fairness and good temper, whereas poise is pleasant and admirable for being presentable and smooth.
Original and primordial describe something relating or belonging to the earliest stages of a thing’s existence. Original suggests something as it first was, at the beginning of its existence, often in contrast to what succeeds it: her original hair color; the original purpose of the law. It usually refers to existences within human history, while primordial suggests something existing at the very beginning of much older, prehistoric things, usually formed by natural and physical processes, such as the primordial atmosphere of Earth, which no longer exists, and human beings’ primordial instincts, which have existed since the beginning. The well-known expression, “primordial soup,” actually illustrates a different definition of the word, which refers to something that is itself the origin. The soup is the mixture of chemicals hypothesized to have given rise to life on earth.
Both words refer to displaying the facial expression that indicates pleasure, amusement, scorn, or mockery. On its own, smile commonly suggests such an expression indicating pleasure or amusement: smiled and waved, but in context, it can refer to a contemptuous expression, more like a sneer. To simper is to indicate pleasure by one’s expression, but in a silly, self-conscious, or ingratiating way: a salesperson simpering at customers. The situation in which simper is used is often that of flirtation or trying to win favor. Simper is found in the company of words like “sweet,” “cloying,” and “fawning,” which emphasize the fake, coy, or servile nature of such smiling—at least to the eye-rolling observer.