\ ˈmə-stē How to pronounce musty (audio) \
mustier; mustiest

Definition of musty

1a : impaired by damp or mildew : moldy old musty books musty hay
b : tasting of mold musty wine
c : smelling of damp and decay : fusty The cellar was musty.
2a : trite, stale musty prose
b(1) : antiquated musty customs
(2) : superannuated musty slang

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Other Words from musty

mustily \ ˈmə-​stə-​lē How to pronounce musty (audio) \ adverb
mustiness \ ˈmə-​stē-​nəs How to pronounce musty (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for musty

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

Examples of musty in a Sentence

a dark and musty basement the musty prose of writers who use the same expressions over and over
Recent Examples on the Web The entrance is an inconspicuous little arch, guarded by an antique wrought-iron gate, between a fine wine shop and a musty bookstore. Kurt Vonnegut, The New Yorker, "Letters to Woofy," 23 Nov. 2020 The smoky scent of a cigarette, flowery aroma of a daisy or musty smell of a book can easily evoke visions of the past. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Researchers Are Recreating Europe’s Centuries-Old Scents," 19 Nov. 2020 This ideal is not some musty platitude whose time has passed. Lawrence B. Solum, Star Tribune, "Judge Barrett is an originalist. That needn't make you afraid.," 19 Oct. 2020 The cacophony of howler monkeys, African grey parrots and cicadas filled her ears and the smell of the rich clay soil—musty decay with a hint of cocoa—permeated her nostrils. Helen Santoro, Smithsonian Magazine, "How Humans Benefit From a Highway of Trails Created by African Forest Elephants," 15 Oct. 2020 At a store in the housing complex’s basement, stocked with free surplus and secondhand goods, the air was musty and the aisles tight and twisting, crammed with clothes, dishes, bicycles, books. New York Times, "‘I Won’t Be Used as a Guinea Pig for White People’," 7 Oct. 2020 The steady, pelting rhythm of rain, the musty dampness of canvas, the petrichor of wet springtime lawn—this singular sensory combination evokes the gloriously sodden camping trips of my childhood, despite the surreal circumstances. Danielle Ofri, The New Yorker, "A Bellevue Doctor’s Pandemic Diary," 1 Oct. 2020 But the line is like a musty old tee-shirt the President can’t or won’t throw away. Clifton Leaf, Fortune, "Donald Trump committed the biggest debate sin of all: He was boring.," 1 Oct. 2020 At a school board meeting in Phoenix earlier this month, parent after parent got up to speak, letting the tensions of a year of uncertainty spill out inside a musty auditorium at the Queen Creek Unified School District. Chabeli Carrazana, USA TODAY, "The classroom and COVID: Teachers say they want to be ‘treated like real people’," 8 Sep. 2020

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

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First Known Use of musty

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for musty

must entry 4

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Time Traveler for musty

Time Traveler

The first known use of musty was in 1530

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Statistics for musty

Last Updated

30 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Musty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for musty


How to pronounce musty (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of musty

: having a bad smell because of wetness, old age, or lack of fresh air


\ ˈmə-stē How to pronounce musty (audio) \
mustier; mustiest

Kids Definition of musty

: smelling of dampness, decay, or lack of fresh air a musty basement

More from Merriam-Webster on musty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for musty

Nglish: Translation of musty for Spanish Speakers

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