\ˈməs-tē \
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 \ˈməs-​tə-​lē \ adverb
mustiness \-​tē-​nəs \ 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 duo visit the musty apartment of a reclusive language tutor, the elegant suite of a physicist in the employ of the U.S. government, and the shadowy ghetto lair of a brutal young hoodlum. Tom Nolan, WSJ, "Mysteries: Tales of Three Blood-Soaked Cities," 30 Nov. 2018 In their sad beige bottles, vitamins were banished to the musty corners of health stores. Jancee Dunn, Allure, "Pretty Pills: How Beauty Supplements Changed the Way We View Wellness," 2 Oct. 2018 Both sides give off the dull, musty smells of work-glove function: stale sawdust and grease pierced with top notes of gasoline. Liz Arnold, Longreads, "Making Peace with the Site of a Suicide," 11 July 2018 Not unless the potatoes taste like the back of a musty pantry. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, "Review: India Oven brings the heat on West Avenue," 12 July 2018 By that time the air will be pleasantly funky-citrus tinged, mingling with your sweat and the musty warm smell of your apartment. Kelly Conaboy, The Cut, "The Perfect Candle for Those Trying to Enjoy the Heat Wave," 6 July 2018 The slow road through Rajasthan is joyous because of these new small properties, the awareness of crisp comfort (no more musty dusty), the care and kindness for the individual traveller, the Rajput families, the connection to the land. Victoria Mather, A-LIST, "India Files: the Princely Grandeur of Rajasthan," 20 June 2018 The Geosmin’s earthy, musty taste and smell is produced by bacteria in soil and algae found on surface water, according to Stephen Pratt, Manager of Laboratory Services at the MDC. Mikaela Porter,, "Despite Taste And Odor, MDC Says Water In Area Towns Safe To Drink," 8 June 2018 Banish thoughts of traditional garage sales filled with Grandma’s costume jewelry and musty sweaters: The monthlong pop-up is an offshoot of their Chicago flagship store, specializing in ultra high-end clothing, shoes, handbags, and accessories. Kara Baskin,, "Nothing like your grandma’s garage sale," 6 June 2018

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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Statistics for musty

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for musty

The first known use of musty was in 1530

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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 \
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with musty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for musty

Spanish Central: Translation of musty

Nglish: Translation of musty for Spanish Speakers

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