\ 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

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 Gummy and a little bland, with a sort of musty, mothball flavor profile that just wouldn’t quit. Ali Francis, Bon Appétit, 16 Dec. 2021 The empty pie cases can be seen through a small hole in the door; put your nose near it, and the empty eatery smells musty. Los Angeles Times, 21 Dec. 2021 The air is musty, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is playing on an ancient TV by the door, and Olivia Rodrigo is flipping through racks of slip dresses and flared pants. Lucy Feldman, Time, 9 Dec. 2021 Yet culture is also the predominant force, far more so than musty appeals to the days of Lafayette and Eiffel, that holds our contemporary alliances together. Thomas Chatterton Williams, Harper's Magazine, 23 Nov. 2021 Just then, Wacker seemed to sniff the musty vintage folding chairs still occupying the press conference area. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, 2 Nov. 2021 The mesh also enables fabrics to breath, which prevents any musty smells from developing. Bridget Arsenault, Forbes, 5 Sep. 2021 This close connection accounts for the fact that smells such as musty books can take you back to long study sessions at the library or campfires can remind you of nights at summer sleepaway camp. Casey Barber, CNN, 1 Oct. 2021 Though a bit musty at first, the nose rapidly expands into white chocolate, tangy fruit, and nutmeg. Felipe Schrieberg, Forbes, 14 Sep. 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of musty

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for musty

must entry 4

Learn More About musty

Dictionary Entries Near musty




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for musty

Last Updated

11 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Musty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for musty



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

Nglish: Translation of musty for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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