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verb \ˈsmel\

Simple Definition of smell

  • : to use your nose to sense smells

  • : to be able to use your nose to sense smells

  • : to notice something because of its smell

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of smell

smelled play \ˈsmeld\ or smelt play \ˈsmelt\ smelling

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to perceive the odor or scent of through stimuli affecting the olfactory nerves :  get the odor or scent of with the nose

  3. 2 :  to detect or become aware of as if by the sense of smell <I smell trouble>

  4. 3 :  to emit the odor of

  5. intransitive verb
  6. 1 :  to exercise the sense of smell

  7. 2a (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>

smeller noun
smell a rat
  1. :  to have a suspicion of something wrong

smell blood
  1. :  to sense an opponent's weakness or vulnerability

smell the roses
  1. :  to enjoy or savor life

Examples of smell in a sentence

  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




Simple Definition of smell

  • : 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

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of smell

  1. 1 :  the property of a thing that affects the olfactory organs :  odor

  2. 2a :  the process, function, or power of smellingb :  the sense concerned with the perception of odor

  3. 3a :  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>

  4. 4 :  an act or instance of smelling

Examples of smell in a sentence

  1. the distinctive smell of onions

  2. Dogs have a keen sense of smell.

12th Century

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>.

SMELL Defined for Kids



verb \ˈsmel\

Definition of smell for Students

smelled \ˈsmeld\ or smelt \ˈsmelt\smelling

  1. 1 :  to detect the odor of by means of special cells located in the nose <Stop and smell the flowers.>

  2. 2 :  to notice (something) because of its odor <I think I smell gas.>

  3. 3 :  to have or give off an odor <My dog smells wet.>

  4. 4 :  to sense as if by smelling <I smell trouble.>




Definition of smell for Students

  1. 1 :  the sense by which a person or animal becomes aware of an odor

  2. 2 :  the sensation gotten through the sense of smell :  odor, scent

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