mustier; mustiest
: impaired by damp or mildew : moldy
old musty books
musty hay
: tasting of mold
musty wine
: smelling of damp and decay : fusty
The cellar was musty.
: trite, stale
musty prose
: antiquated
musty customs
: superannuated
musty slang
mustily adverb
mustiness 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 Remove Stains and Smells from Carpets Similarly, borax works to tackle spills and freshen musty carpets and rugs. Mary Cornetta, Better Homes & Gardens, 29 June 2024 One sign of high humidity levels is water condensation, which can manifest as a musty smell or make the air feel damp. Nafeesah Allen, Better Homes & Gardens, 18 June 2024 There is a powerful figure, and the curtains are an oppressive wall of musty damask. Sara Holdren, Vulture, 7 June 2024 Ann hadn’t yet met her husband, but Elgar had been hooked on opiates then, in a peeling duplex with musty mattresses barricading the windows. Nicolette Polek, Harper's Magazine, 22 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for musty 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'musty.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


must entry 4

First Known Use

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of musty was in 1530

Dictionary Entries Near musty

Cite this Entry

“Musty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


mustier; mustiest
: affected by dampness or mildew : moldy
: tasting or smelling of dampness and decay
: stale entry 1 sense 2, trite
musty proverbs
: outmoded, antiquated
musty traditions
mustiness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on musty

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!