verb \ˈsmel\

: to use your nose to sense smells

: to be able to use your nose to sense smells

: to notice something because of its smell

smelled \ˈsmeld\ or smelt \ˈsmelt\ smell·ing

Full Definition of SMELL

transitive verb
:  to perceive the odor or scent of through stimuli affecting the olfactory nerves :  get the odor or scent of with the nose
:  to detect or become aware of as if by the sense of smell <I smell trouble>
:  to emit the odor of
intransitive verb
:  to exercise the sense of smell
a (1) :  to have an odor or scent (2) :  to have a characteristic aura or atmosphere :  smack <the accounts…seemed to me to smell of truth — R. S. Bourne>; also :  seem, appear <the story didn't smell right>
b (1) :  to have an offensive odor :  stink
(2) :  to be of bad or questionable quality <all this from the moral point of view smells — A. F. Wills>
smell·er noun
smell a rat
:  to have a suspicion of something wrong
smell blood
:  to sense an opponent's weakness or vulnerability
smell the roses
:  to enjoy or savor life

Examples of SMELL

  1. She leaned over and smelled the flowers.
  2. I have a cold right now so I can't smell.
  3. I can't smell anything because I'm so stuffed up.
  4. I could smell dinner cooking.
  5. I think I smell gas.
  6. This car smells like mold.
  7. Can't you smell the profits?

Origin of SMELL

Middle English
First Known Use: 12th century

Related to SMELL

nose, scent, sniff, snuff, whiff
rock [slang], rule [slang]



: the quality of a thing that you can sense with your nose

: an unpleasant odor

: the ability to notice or recognize odors : the ability to smell things

Full Definition of SMELL

:  the property of a thing that affects the olfactory organs :  odor
a :  the process, function, or power of smelling
b :  the sense concerned with the perception of odor
a :  a very small amount :  trace <add only a smell of garlic>
b :  a pervading or characteristic quality :  aura <the smell of affluence, of power — Harry Hervey>
:  an act or instance of smelling

Examples of SMELL

  1. the distinctive smell of onions
  2. Dogs have a keen sense of smell.

First Known Use of SMELL

12th century

Synonym Discussion of SMELL

smell, scent, odor, aroma mean the quality that makes a thing perceptible to the olfactory sense. smell implies solely the sensation without suggestion of quality or character <an odd smell permeated the room>. scent applies to the characteristic smell given off by a substance, an animal, or a plant <the scent of lilacs>. odor may imply a stronger or more readily distinguished scent or it may be equivalent to smell <a cheese with a strong odor>. aroma suggests a somewhat penetrating usually pleasant odor <the aroma of freshly ground coffee>.


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