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 While the process was largely an exercise in repetition, Sachdev encountered a few creative takes on a musty old format. WIRED, 17 Oct. 2023 In truth, Tony had never stepped foot inside that Erewhon, which had occupied the same musty space at 7660 Beverly Blvd. Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Oct. 2023 Their low-key jaunts about town—to their catfish joint, the health center, or the homes of various elders—give way to sometimes meandering one-on-one scenes that lend several episodes the musty air of a chamber play. Inkoo Kang, The New Yorker, 6 Oct. 2023 That play was called Abraham, and here, millennia later, Perkins’s sweet, enthusiastic, and—yes, despite his musty morals—heroic hermit is still the soul of the story. Sara Holdren, Vulture, 22 Sep. 2023 Longtime fans are getting aggravated with all the buzzwords and empty promises, and the Fenway Park experience is getting musty. Peter Abraham,, 15 Sep. 2023 Say goodbye to smelly gym clothes or musty towels, and hello to fresh, clean laundry every time. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 22 Apr. 2023 The right word might be vintage: There’s nothing musty about Flick’s work, and viewers who can never get enough geometric abstraction will find a lot to like. Kriston Capps, Washington Post, 30 Aug. 2023 Replace flour with a foul, musty, or sour odor or if the texture and coloring have changed. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, 20 July 2023 See More

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 30 Nov. 2023.

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

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