The Meaning of SME: What It Is and How To Use It

SME is an acronym with many potential meanings depending on the industry and context. Read on to learn about the common and uncommon meanings of SME.

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Have you ever heard the term SME and been confused? Keep reading to learn about what this new acronym means.

What Does SME Mean?

According to Investopedia, the abbreviation SME stands for small and mid-sized enterprise. This type of business has several employees, assets, and revenue below a certain threshold to be classified as a small business. Each country has different requirements for SMEs. 

While businesses in the European Union and European Commission have distinct requirements for being a small business, the United States does not. There are also distance classifications for what it means to be a micro-company or micro, small office/home office (SOHO) business. 

In the United States, small and medium enterprises are organized according to Small Business Administration (SBA) guidelines. The definition of micro-business, micro-enterprises, medium-sized businesses, and large businesses depends on the sector. 

What Are Other Meanings of SME?

SME can stand for many other potential meanings besides small and mid-sized enterprise. Depending on the industry or conversation you are in, this word can have several definitions. From technology to business to science, The Free Dictionary has got you covered when it comes to definitions of SME!

Meanings of SME in Technology

If you work in technology or are discussing something related to technology, you might see the acronym SME stand for one of the following!

  • System Management Entity
  • Social Media Examiner (website)
  • Service Management Enterprise (software)
  • Sun Microelectronics
  • Service Management Engine
  • Security Management Entity
  • Storage Media Encryption
  • Storage Management Engine
  • Structural Mechanical Environment
  • Storage Media Encryption (various companies)
  • Secure Mobile Environment
  • Software Maintenance Engineer
  • Short Message Entity
  • Spatial Modeling Environment
  • SuccessMaker Enterprise (education)
  • Solutions Middle East
  • Sun Microelectronics (Sun Microsystems, Inc.)
  • Synchronous Modem Eliminator
  • Signaling Message Encryption
  • State Machine Editor
  • Software Management for Executives (training course)
  • Static Model Exchange
  • Selector Mark Enable
  • Session Management Engine (software development and testing)

Meanings of SME in Government

If you are watching political news or working in a government sector, there is a chance that you might come across one of the below definitions of SME.

  • Subject Matter Expert
  • Subject Matter Expertise
  • School of Military Engineering
  • Significant Military Equipment
  • Stato Maggiore dell’Esercito (Italian: Army General Staff)
  • Special Mission Equipment
  • Surface Material Exploration (Canada)
  • Squadron Medical Element
  • Security Message Exchange
  • Society of Military Engineers
  • Services de Migration et Etrangers (French: Migration and Foreigners Services; Angola)
  • Surface Movement Element
  • Small Management Element
  • Supply Management Executive/Expert

Meanings of SME in Science

There are many different fields in science that have their own uses for SME!

  • Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration
  • Science-Mathematics Education (various schools)
  • Surface Mining Equipment
  • Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment
  • Society of Mining Engineers
  • Sinorhizobium Meliloti
  • Shape Memory Effect (engineering)
  • Solar Mesosphere Explorer
  • Soy Methyl Ester (biodiesel)
  • Standard Model Extension (physics)
  • Soil and Materials Engineers, Inc (Plymouth, MI)
  • School of Materials Engineering
  • Surface Mobile Equipment
  • Systems Maintenance Engineer
  • Stratégie Marine Européenne (French: EU Marine Strategy)
  • Solid-Metal Embrittlement
  • Shape Metal Effect
  • Submucosal Extension
  • Submucosal Mass Effect

Meanings of SME in Business

Besides using SME to refer to small and medium-sized businesses, people who work in business might come across one of the below alternate definitions of SME!

  • Senior Mechanical Engineer
  • Système de Management Environnemental (French: Environmental Management System)
  • Système Monétaire Européen (French: European monetary system)
  • Scale Model Equipment (UK)
  • Service Management Europe (UK)
  • Single Market Events Pty Ltd. (Australia)
  • Sharp Microelectronics Europe (Hamburg, Germany)
  • Senior Management Executive
  • Sales & Marketing Executives International
  • Square Meter Equivalent (textile trade)
  • Sports Media Entertainment (broadcast outlet)
  • Semaine Mondiale de l’Entrepreneuriat (French: Global Week of Entrepreneurship)
  • Seine-Maritime Expansion (est. 1968)
  • Sales Management Engineer
  • Société Métallurgique d’Epernay (French: Metallurgical Society of Epernay; France)
  • Specialized Market Expert

Meanings of SME as Organizations

Many organizations and companies might go by the initials SME.

  • Society of Manufacturing Engineers
  • Sistema Monetario Europeo (Italian)
  • Spontaneous Music Ensemble (est. 1966)
  • Santé Mentale Europe (French: Mental Health Europe)
  • Shawnee Mission East
  • Shimoga (Indian town railway code)
  • Sustaining Membership Enrollment (Boy Scouts of America)
  • Sloppy Meateaters (band)
  • Saami, Northern (Norwegian ISO Language Code)
  • Special Minister of the Eucharist

Meanings of SME as Slang

SME could also be used as a slang term for the yummy phrase below!

  • Sausage McMuffin with Egg (McDonalds)

What Are Translations of Small Business?

Other countries that do not speak English might use a different abbreviation for small and medium businesses than SME. Therefore, it is best to simply use a translation of the term SME, like one of the below from Nice Translator

  • Ukrainian: малий бізнес
  • Polish: mały biznes
  • Filipino: maliit na negosyo
  • French: petite entreprise
  • Spanish: pequeños negocios
  • Turkish: küçük iş
  • Bulgarian: малък бизнес
  • Japanese: 小規模なビジネス
  • Finnish: pieni yritys
  • Portuguese (Brazil): Pequenos negócios
  • Romanian: mici afaceri
  • Marathi: लहान व्यवसाय
  • Indonesian: bisnis kecil
  • Slovak: malý biznis
  • Tamil: சிறு தொழில்
  • Bengali: ছোট ব্যবসা
  • Latvian: mazs bizness
  • Hungarian: kis vállalkozás
  • Icelandic: lítið fyrirtæki
  • Czech: malý podnik
  • Basque: Negozio txikiak
  • Lithuanian: smulkus verslas
  • Chinese (PRC): 小本生意
  • Vietnamese: doanh nghiệp nhỏ
  • Korean: 중소기업
  • Swedish: litet företag
  • Croatian: mali posao
  • Slovenian: malo podjetje
  • Hindi: छोटा व्यापर
  • Welsh: Busnesau Bach
  • Chinese (Taiwan): 小本生意
  • Russian: малый бизнес
  • Greek: μικρή επιχείρηση
  • Serbian: Мали бизнис
  • Norwegian: lite firma
  • Catalan: negoci petit
  • German: Kleinbetrieb
  • Urdu: چھوٹا کاروبار
  • Portuguese (Portugal): Pequenos negócios
  • Arabic: أعمال صغيرة
  • Danish: lille virksomhed
  • Amharic: አነስተኛ ንግድ
  • Gujarati: નાના વેપાર
  • Italian: piccola impresa
  • Malay: perniagaan kecil kecilan
  • Dutch: klein bedrijf
  • Telugu: చిన్న వ్యాపారం
  • Malayalam: ചെറിയ ബിസിനസ്
  • Thai: ธุรกิจขนาดเล็ก
  • Swahili: Biashara ndogo ndogo
  • Kannada: ಸಣ್ಣ ವ್ಯಾಪಾರ
  • Hebrew: עסק קטן
  • Estonian: väikeettevõte


The definition of an SME is small and mid-sized enterprise. Businesses in the MSME or SME sector have upper limits on their amount of GDP, employees, and more. This acronym can also have several other potential meanings. Which meanings of SME have you heard?


  1. SME – What does SME stand for? | The Free Dictionary
  2. Small and Mid-size Enterprise (SME) Definition | Investopedia 
  3. Small Business | Nice Translator