\ 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 mustily (audio) \ adverb
mustiness \ ˈmə-​stē-​nəs How to pronounce mustiness (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 Inside, my hovel smelled musty as a summer cottage in the off-season. Wes Enzinna, Harper's magazine, "Gimme Shelter," 19 Nov. 2019 Parked against the curb, a 22-foot-long 1960 Miller Meteor that still smelled as musty as the 1960s. Christopher Borrelli,, "Meet the Illinois folks who collect and drive hearses: ‘I am into the morbid side of life’," 29 Oct. 2019 Often, they are forced to sleep in pitch black, musty rooms, with the knowledge of each building’s extremely dark history. Liv Martin, Twin Cities, "Lakeville friends star in new spooky Travel Channel series ‘Destination Fear’," 25 Oct. 2019 In an age of Instagram and iPhone cameras, will readers still turn to a text as musty as On Photography (1977)? Peter Tonguette, National Review, "Susan Sontag’s Lifelong Literary Pose," 24 Oct. 2019 Our father would often lock whichever of us kids didn’t have an after school activity that day into a tiny, musty daycare room. Alicia Lutes, Longreads, "Breaking the Family Silence on Alcoholism," 19 Oct. 2019 Its aroma changed from musty and basement-like to buttery. New York Times, "This Fungus Mutates. That’s Good News if You Like Cheese.," 15 Oct. 2019 The hulking building looks more like a fallout shelter than a seat of government where the halls can be so dour that even the top floor can feel like a musty basement. Globe Staff,, "50 years of pols and paper chases: Tales from inside City Hall," 27 June 2019 The musty aroma didn’t supplant the fetor of failure and futility that hung in the air and along the corridors, like inert gases or the ghosts of the League of Nations. Alejandro Varela, Harper's magazine, "Carlitos in Charge," 16 Sep. 2019

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

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Musty.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 13 December 2019.

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on musty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for musty

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with musty

Spanish Central: Translation of musty

Nglish: Translation of musty for Spanish Speakers

Comments on musty

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easily led, controlled, or managed

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