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

  • transitive v. To perceive the scent of (something) by means of the olfactory nerves.
  • transitive v. To sense the presence of by or as if by the olfactory nerves; detect or discover: We smelled trouble ahead. The committee tried to smell out corruption in law enforcement.
  • intransitive v. To use the sense of smell; perceive the scent of something.
  • intransitive v. To have or emit an odor: "The breeze smelled exactly like Vouvray—flowery, with a hint of mothballs underneath” ( Anne Tyler).
  • intransitive v. To be suggestive; have a touch of something: a cave that smells of terror.
  • intransitive v. To have or emit an unpleasant odor; stink: This closet smells.
  • intransitive v. To appear to be dishonest; suggest evil or corruption.
  • n. The sense by which odors are perceived; the olfactory sense.
  • n. That quality of something that may be perceived by the olfactory sense.
  • n. The act or an instance of smelling.
  • n. A distinctive enveloping or characterizing quality; an aura or trace: the smell of success.
  • idiom smell a rat Slang To suspect that something is wrong.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A sensation, pleasant or unpleasant, detected by inhaling air (or, the case of water-breathing animals, water) carrying airborne molecules of a substance.
  • n. The sense that detects odours.
  • v. To sense a smell or smells.
  • v. To have a particular smell, whether good or bad; if descriptive, followed by "like" or "of".
  • v. smell bad, stink

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The sense or faculty by which certain qualities of bodies are perceived through the instrumentally of the olfactory nerves. See sense.
  • n. The quality of any thing or substance, or emanation therefrom, which affects the olfactory organs; odor; scent; fragrance; perfume.
  • intransitive v. To affect the olfactory nerves; to have an odor or scent; -- often followed by of.
  • intransitive v. To have a particular tincture or smack of any quality; to savor.
  • intransitive v. To exercise the sense of smell.
  • intransitive v. To exercise sagacity.
  • transitive v. To perceive by the olfactory nerves, or organs of smell; to have a sensation of, excited through the nasal organs when affected by the appropriate materials or qualities; to obtain the scent of.
  • transitive v. To detect or perceive, as if by the sense of smell; to scent out; -- often with out.
  • transitive v. To give heed to.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To perceive through the nose, by means of the olfactory nerves; perceive the scent of; scent; nose.
  • To perceive as if by smell; perceive in any way; especially, to detect by peculiar sagacity or a sort of instinct; smell out.
  • To inhale the smell or odor of; test by the sense of smell: oftener intransitive, with of or at.
  • To give out an odor; affect the olfactory sense: as, the rose smells sweet.
  • Specifically, to give out an offensive odor: as, how the place smells!
  • To have an odor (of a specified kind); be scented with: with of: as, to smell of roses.
  • Figuratively, to appear to be of a certain nature or character, as indicated by the smell: generally followed by like or of.
  • To inhale a smell or odor as a gratification or as a test of kind or quality, etc.: colloquially with of, formerly sometimes with to or unto.
  • To snuff; try to smell something; figuratively, to try to smell out something: generally with about: as, to go smelling about.
  • n. The faculty of perceiving by the nose; senseperception through the olfactory nerves; the olfactory faculty or function; the physiological process or function whereby certain odoriferous qualities of bodies, as scent or effluvium, are perceived and recognized through sensation; olfaction; scent; often with the definite article, as one of the special senses: as, the smell in dogs is keen.
  • n. That quality of anything which is or may be smelled; an odoriferous effluvium; an odor or scent, whether agreeable or offensive; a fragrance, perfume, or stench; aroma: as, the smell of thyme; the smell of bilge-water.
  • n. A faint impression; a subtle suggestion; a hint; a trace: as, the poem has a smell of the woods.
  • n. An act of smelling: as, he took a smell at the bottle.

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

  • n. the general atmosphere of a place or situation and the effect that it has on people
  • n. the sensation that results when olfactory receptors in the nose are stimulated by particular chemicals in gaseous form
  • n. the act of perceiving the odor of something
  • n. the faculty that enables us to distinguish scents
  • v. have an element suggestive (of something)
  • v. inhale the odor of; perceive by the olfactory sense
  • v. smell bad
  • v. become aware of not through the senses but instinctively
  • n. any property detected by the olfactory system
  • v. emit an odor


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

Middle English smellen.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English smellen, smillen, smyllen, smullen, from Old English *smyllan, *smiellan (“to smell, emit fumes”), from Proto-Germanic *smuljanan, *smaljanan (“to glow, burn, smoulder”), from Proto-Indo-European *smelə- (“to burn, smoke, smoulder; tar, pitch”). The noun is from Middle English smel, smil, smul ("smell, odour"). Related to Middle Dutch smōlen ("to burn, smoulder") (whence Dutch smeulen ("to smoulder")), Middle Low German smölen ("to be hazy, be dusty") (whence German Low German smölen ("smoulder")), West Flemish smoel ("stuffy, muggy, hazy"), Danish smul ("dust, powder"), Lithuanian smilkyti ("to incense, fumigate"), Lithuanian smilkti ("to smudge, smolder, fume, reek"), Lithuanian smalkinti ("to fume"), Middle Irish smál, smól, smúal ("fire, gleed, embers, ashes"), Russian смола (smola, "resin, tar"). Compare smoulder, smother.


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  • Among senses, smell was the strongest: —smell of hot pine-woods and sweet-fern in the scorching summer noon; of new-mown hay; of ploughed earth; of box hedges; of peaches, lilacs, syringes; of stables, barns, cow-yards; of salt water and low tide on the marshes; nothing came amiss.

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  • Your writing might be kinda sweet, delicately nuanced, quite lovely to many, but if it's based on hers all she's gonna smell is the stuff you've done to it that's just plain wrong, far as she's concerned.


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    My brother and I have been hunting for years together.

  • Too much riffraff in this mall, the riff raff needs to take showers, baths, the smell is awful.

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  • The Cat Genie doesn't always get all the solid waste and when it doesn't, the smell is a little annoying when you clean again.

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  • Honestly, the smell is almost intolerable to me - it's very citrusy, but incredibly so, with only 3 flowers (another 12 flower buds are on their way), and the thing wafts at you from a good 6 feet away, plus.


  • Friends of the family say George a seven year old boy who lived at the apartment complex saved his family after exploring what he called the smell of something funny.

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  • Thats what we call the smell of freshly fired M-4's … .i dont know why we call it that, but we do.

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  • does anyone know wht olfaction means ?????????

    August 21, 2011