from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To cause to be extremely angry; infuriate.
  • n. An aromatic substance, such as wood or a gum, that is burned to produce a pleasant odor.
  • n. The smoke or odor produced by the burning of such a substance.
  • n. A pleasant smell.
  • n. Flattering or fawning attention; homage.
  • transitive v. To perfume with incense.
  • transitive v. To burn incense to, as a ritual offering.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A perfume often used in the rites of various religions.
  • v. To anger or infuriate.
  • v. To incite, stimulate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The perfume or odors exhaled from spices and gums when burned in celebrating religious rites or as an offering to some deity.
  • n. The materials used for the purpose of producing a perfume when burned, as fragrant gums, spices, frankincense, etc.
  • n. Also used figuratively.
  • transitive v. To set on fire; to inflame; to kindle; to burn.
  • transitive v. To inflame with anger; to enrage; to endkindle; to fire; to incite; to provoke; to heat; to madden.
  • transitive v. To offer incense to. See Incense.
  • transitive v. To perfume with, or as with, incense.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To set on fire; cause to burn; inflame; kindle.
  • To make hot or eager; enkindle; incite; stimulate.
  • In particular To burn as incense; use in burning incense.
  • To enkindle or excite to anger or other passion; inflame; make angry; provoke.
  • Synonyms Irritate, Provoke, etc. (see exasperate), offend, anger, chafe, nettle, gall.
  • To perfume with incense.
  • To offer incense to; worship; flatter extravagantly.
  • To burn or offer incense.
  • n. Any aromatic material, as certain gums, which exhales perfume during combustion; a mixture of fragrant gums, spices, etc., with gum-resin, compounded for the purpose of producing a sweet odor when burned.
  • n. The perfume or scented fumes arising from an odoriferous substance, as frankincense, during combustion; the odor of spices and gums burned as an act of worship in some religious systems.
  • n. Any grateful odor, as of flowers; agreeable perfume or fragrance.
  • n. Figuratively, gratifying admiration or attention; flattering regard and deference; homage; adulation.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. make furious
  • v. perfume especially with a censer
  • n. a substance that produces a fragrant odor when burned
  • n. the pleasing scent produced when incense is burned


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English encensen, from Old French incenser, from Late Latin incēnsāre, to sacrifice, burn, from Latin incēnsus, past participle of incendere, to set on fire; see kand- in Indo-European roots.
Middle English encens, from Old French, from Latin incēnsum, from neuter past participle of incendere, to set on fire; see kand- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French encens ("sweet-smelling substance") from Late Latin incensum ("burnt incense", literally "something burnt"), neuter past participle of incendō ("I set on fire"). Compare incendiary.



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  • "... Burning incense releases chemicals similar to human steroids that are thought to play a role in human sexual behavior. If so, something along these lines might contribute to a sense of emotional uplift, a feeling of exhilaration amenable to mild religious transport. Less contentiously, perhaps, there is a consensus that smell disrupts and stimulates the conventional workings of the mind: certain aromas have powers of association that can bend perceptions of time and place. As Rousseau observed, smell is the sense of memory and desire, and such evocative powers are arguably not entirely removed from the experience of religious transport. Smell is as ineffable and elusive as the gods themselves, wafting beyond the reach of the rational intellect."

    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation_ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 234

    December 6, 2016

  • sweet smoke and mirrors??? glowing coals???

    June 22, 2007

  • That's one of the fun things about listing a word. Everyone adds it for a different reason. I like the verb "incense" better than the noun too, arby, but I think I'll keep this version. :-)

    June 22, 2007

  • I love this word but I was just thinking yesterday about how I like the verb form even better than the noun - so to that end I'm going to list incensed if it hasn't been already.

    June 22, 2007