fet·​id ˈfe-təd How to pronounce fetid (audio)
 especially British  ˈfē-tid
: having a heavy offensive smell
a fetid swamp
fetidly adverb
fetidness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for fetid

malodorous, stinking, fetid, noisome, putrid, rank, fusty, musty mean bad-smelling.

malodorous may range from the unpleasant to the strongly offensive.

malodorous fertilizers

stinking and fetid suggest the foul or disgusting.

prisoners were held in stinking cells
the fetid odor of skunk cabbage

noisome adds a suggestion of being harmful or unwholesome as well as offensive.

a stagnant, noisome sewer

putrid implies particularly the sickening odor of decaying organic matter.

the putrid smell of rotting fish

rank suggests a strong unpleasant smell.

rank cigar smoke

fusty and musty suggest lack of fresh air and sunlight, fusty also implying prolonged uncleanliness, musty stressing the effects of dampness, mildew, or age.

a fusty attic
the musty odor of a damp cellar

Example Sentences

a fetid pool of water the fetid odor of rotting vegetables
Recent Examples on the Web But massive delays in the immigration system created long delays, leading to fetid, dangerous camps over the border where migrants were forced to wait. Time, 5 Jan. 2023 Walsh launched his fetid career in the same manner as many of the worst of the right-wing swamp: conservative talk radio. Indigo Olivier, The New Republic, 27 Dec. 2022 Katrina flooded the parish with up to 15 feet of toxic, fetid water that stagnated for weeks. Richard A. Webster, ProPublica, 12 Dec. 2022 The cells were littered with plastic water bottles, fetid heaps of bedding and filthy clothing. Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, 16 Nov. 2022 And crucially, so can the tides, with saltwater from the Adriatic helping to flush out the lagoon and prevent it from becoming a fetid petri dish. Stefano Pitrelli, Washington Post, 26 Nov. 2022 Tenants dragged soggy mattresses, couches and rugs to the back of the complex, creating a fetid wall of garbage. Stephen Hudak, Orlando Sentinel, 4 Oct. 2022 Thousands starved outside the fetid prison’s barbed wire fence, and conditions were incalculably worse inside. Time, 28 Sep. 2022 Most rocket attacks happen in the early morning hours, often between 2 and 6, but the first air attack alarms often sound much earlier, sending firefighters scrambling into a dank and fetid bunker beneath the firehouse. Michael Schwirtz, New York Times, 16 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fetid.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English, from Latin foetidus, from foetēre to stink

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of fetid was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near fetid

Cite this Entry

“Fetid.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fetid. Accessed 3 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


fet·​id ˈfet-əd How to pronounce fetid (audio)
: having a strong unpleasant smell
fetidly adverb
fetidness noun

Medical Definition


variants also foetid
ˈfet-əd, especially British ˈfē-tid
: having a heavy offensive smell

More from Merriam-Webster on fetid

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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