noi·​some ˈnȯi-səm How to pronounce noisome (audio)
: noxious, harmful
a noisome pestilence
: offensive to the senses and especially to the sense of smell
noisome garbage
: highly obnoxious or objectionable
noisome habits
noisomely adverb
noisomeness noun

Did you know?

Noisome looks and sounds like a close relation of noisy, but it’s not. While noisy describes what is excessively loud, noisome typically describes what is excessively stinky. (It is also used to describe things offensive to the senses generally, as well as things that are highly obnoxious, objectionable, or simply harmful.) Noisome comes from the synonymous Middle English noysome, which combined the suffix -some, meaning “characterized by a specified thing,” and the noun noy, meaning “annoyance.” Noisy, incidentally, comes ultimately from Latin nausea, meaning “nausea.”

Choose the Right Synonym for noisome

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 noisome in a Sentence

it's no fun having asthma and living in an area with noisome smog a noisome remark about my weight that stuck with me for days
Recent Examples on the Web To question the sincerity of the president’s rhetoric—and that of his party—is not to dismiss the challenge posed by the various noisome currents of antidemocratic sentiment and behavior running through our politics like the effluence of overflowing sewers. Gerard Baker, WSJ, 7 Nov. 2022 Performers like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, who long ago bartered their integrity and believability for money and ratings, can peddle their noisome pro-Trump propaganda on Fox News. Los Angeles Times, 10 June 2022 But Trudeau is using it to get rid of a political headache: the loud, noisome, but nonviolent blockade of bridges in Canada and the downtown of the nation’s capital. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, 16 Feb. 2022 But her water bowl is filled with a noisome black, brackish liquid — what has fouled it, and for how long, is anyone’s guess. Gene Weingarten, Washington Post, 8 Nov. 2021 And there were some years where his fame was turned infamous by serious accusations of the most noisome acts. Ashley Cullins, Billboard, 3 May 2021 Auschwitz was his laboratory, offering limitless subjects and unbound by noisome ethical inhibitions. David Margolick, WSJ, 24 Jan. 2020 Farmers agreed to reduce the emissions of the country’s noisome pigs. The Economist, 9 July 2019 When asked to share a story about the worst moment in his career, Griffin talked about yet another interaction with a noisome audience member. Nina Metz,, 5 June 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'noisome.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English noysome, from noy annoyance, alteration of anoi, from Anglo-French anui, from anuier to harass, annoy — more at annoy

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of noisome was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near noisome

Cite this Entry

“Noisome.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


noi·​some ˈnȯi-səm How to pronounce noisome (audio)
: not wholesome
a noisome slum
: disagreeable especially to the sense of smell : disgusting
noisome odors

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