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

  • transitive v. To melt or fuse (ores) in order to separate the metallic constituents.
  • intransitive v. To melt or fuse. Used of ores.
  • n. Any of various small silvery marine and freshwater food fishes of the family Osmeridae, found in cold waters of the Northern Hemisphere, especially Osmerus mordax of North America and O. eperlanus of Europe.
  • v. A past tense and a past participle of smell.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any small anadromous fish of the family Osmeridae, found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and in lakes in North America and northern part of Europe.
  • n. Production of metal, especially iron, from ore in a process that involves melting and chemical reduction of metal compounds into purified metal.
  • n. Any of the various liquids or semi-molten solids produced and used during the course of such production.
  • v. to fuse two things into one, especially when involving ores; to meld
  • v. Simple past tense and past participle of smell.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • imp. & p. p. of smell.
  • n. Any one of numerous species of small silvery salmonoid fishes of the genus Osmerus and allied genera, which ascend rivers to spawn, and sometimes become landlocked in lakes. They are esteemed as food, and have a peculiar odor and taste.
  • n. A gull; a simpleton.
  • transitive v. To melt or fuse, as, ore, for the purpose of separating and refining the metal; hence, to reduce; to refine; to flux or scorify.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To fuse; melt; specifically, to treat (ore) in the large way, and chiefly in a furnace or by the aid of heat, for the purpose of separating the contained metal.
  • To fuse; melt; dissolve.
  • n. Any one of various small fishes.
  • n. A gull; a simpleton.
  • n.

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

  • n. small cold-water silvery fish; migrate between salt and fresh water
  • v. extract (metals) by heating
  • n. small trout-like silvery marine or freshwater food fishes of cold northern waters


Dutch or Low German smelten, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German; see mel-1 in Indo-European roots.
Middle English, from Old English; see mel-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English smelt. (Wiktionary)
From very early Middle English smel; likely to derive from Old English, but not recorded. (Wiktionary)
Variant of the stem of Old English meltan ("to melt"), cognate with Dutch smelten and German schmelzen. (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "The smelt is the garden warbler of the water; the same smallness, the same high flavour, the same superiority," - French gastronome Brillat-Savarin

    September 24, 2009

  • There's something fishy about this word.

    January 17, 2009

  • “While there is some debate about the best inaugural address in history, it’s pretty clear that the worst was the one delivered by William Henry Harrison, who went thwacking through a tangled thicket of classical allusions for an hour and 45 minutes. (Harrison’s editor, Daniel Webster, claimed it could have been worse, and that he had killed off ‘seventeen Roman proconsuls, as dead as smelts.’)�?

    The New York Times, Imagining the Inaugural, by Gail Collins, January 16, 2009

    January 17, 2009

  • "He who smelt it, dealt it."
    "He who made the rhyme, did the crime."

    July 13, 2007

  • 4) One of the types of fishes you're forced to eat on Christmas Eve if you're part of an Italian family. See squid, calamari. ;-)

    July 13, 2007

  • 1) The chemical process of smelting;
    2) A number of small, silver breeds of fish;
    3) The past tense of smell.

    July 13, 2007