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

Example Sentences

a dark and musty basement the musty prose of writers who use the same expressions over and over
Recent Examples on the Web But she was enamored by its charm and the potential lurking in its musty, shadowy halls. Globe Staff,, 20 Oct. 2022 In the darkness of his cramped, musty apartment, Sevrukov's mother sat under a blanket on a sofa piled with plates of spoiled food. Justin Spike, ajc, 18 Oct. 2022 Gym towels can get gross fast, holding onto musty odors from workouts and serving as a breeding ground for bacteria. Amanda Constantine, Good Housekeeping, 10 Oct. 2022 The kitchen cabinets overflowed with musty spices, tea, condiments, and other long-past-their-prime foodstuffs left by earlier visitors. Christina Binkley, Vogue, 5 Oct. 2022 Raisins and prunes, velvet, musty books, hay and tobacco leaf all feature. Felipe Schrieberg, Forbes, 28 June 2022 And it must be asked: As the subject of a potential summer blockbuster, isn’t Elvis a bit … musty? New York Times, 25 May 2022 These closet dehumidifying crystals eliminate and prevent musty odors by absorbing moisture and removing excess humidity from the air. Jamie Kim, Good Housekeeping, 13 Sep. 2022 One of the most noticeable signs is a musty scent that only seems to fill the room when the air conditioner is running. Timothy Dale, Better Homes & Gardens, 11 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

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 9 Dec. 2022.

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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