\ ˈō-dər How to pronounce odor (audio) \

Definition of odor

1a : a quality of something that stimulates the olfactory organ : scent
b : a sensation resulting from adequate stimulation of the olfactory organ : smell
2a : a characteristic or predominant quality : flavor the odor of sanctity
b : repute, estimation in bad odor
3 archaic : something that emits a sweet or pleasing scent : perfume

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Other Words from odor

odored \ ˈō-​dərd How to pronounce odored (audio) \ adjective
odorless \ ˈō-​dər-​ləs How to pronounce odorless (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for odor

smell, scent, odor, aroma mean the quality that makes a thing perceptible to the olfactory sense. smell implies solely the sensation without suggestion of quality or character. an odd smell permeated the room scent applies to the characteristic smell given off by a substance, an animal, or a plant. the scent of lilacs odor may imply a stronger or more readily distinguished scent or it may be equivalent to smell. a cheese with a strong odor aroma suggests a somewhat penetrating usually pleasant odor. the aroma of freshly ground coffee

Examples of odor in a Sentence

The cheese has a strong odor. This deodorant prevents bad odor from occurring.
Recent Examples on the Web Too much detergent can also build up in the washer and cause odors. David Kender, USA TODAY, "The 3 biggest myths about doing laundry," 19 Feb. 2020 Police had performed a welfare check after his neighbor’s dog detected a foul-smelling odor from the apartment. Fox News, "Teen's cell phone found in Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell missing children case: report," 13 Feb. 2020 The soil pipe needs to have a vent pipe connected, which ensures the sewer gases and odors are carried away -- usually through a vent in the roof. Helen Regan, CNN, "Did residents of a Hong Kong high-rise catch coronavirus through the tower's pipes? Experts are investigating," 12 Feb. 2020 One of the women who plays in the league has really awful underarm odor. Annie Lane, oregonlive, "Dear Annie: How do I tell a fellow softball player that she has awful underarm odor?," 5 Feb. 2020 The mesh accents and insulation are made with recycled P.E.T. fibers, and the anti-odor compound and durable water repellent coating used in the leather boot are free of harmful chemicals, such as pesticides and PFCs. Adrienne Donica, Popular Mechanics, "We Found Six Great Boots at Outdoor Retailer for Every Winter Adventure," 5 Feb. 2020 Even though this myth persists, a 2016 paper published by the National Parks Service examined existing research and found no substantial evidence that bears are more attracted to the smell of human menstrual blood than to any other odors. Sara Coughlin, SELF, "Hiking or Camping on Your Period? Here's How to Deal," 30 Jan. 2020 This spray stands up to hard-to-rid urine odors and stains and is safe to use on a range of surfaces, from carpets and couches to hardwood and tile. Jessica Migala, NBC News, "The 15 best dog and cat pet products for safety, health and fun," 10 Jan. 2020 Police smelled the odor of marijuana inside the car, and THC oil, marijuana and drug paraphernalia were found inside the car. Brian Lisik, cleveland, "Deer with bucket on its head eludes police: Brunswick Hills Township Police Blotter," 3 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'odor.' 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 odor

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for odor

Middle English odour, borrowed from Anglo-French odur, borrowed from Latin odor (early Latin odōs), going back to *od-os-, s-stem derivative of a verbal base *od- (whence Latin oleō, olēre, also olō, olere "to give off a smell, smell (of)," from *odere), going back to Indo-European *h3ed-, whence Greek ózein "to smell, give off an odor," Armenian hot "smell, odor" (probably also an s-stem), Lithuanian úodžiu, úosti "to smell, sniff"

Note: The length in the Baltic form is attributed to Winter's Law, which is believed to lengthen vowels before an original voiced, unaspirated stop in Baltic and Slavic in certain environments.

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Time Traveler for odor

Time Traveler

The first known use of odor was in the 13th century

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Statistics for odor

Last Updated

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Odor.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/odor. Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for odor


How to pronounce odor (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of odor

: a particular smell


\ ˈō-dər How to pronounce odor (audio) \

Kids Definition of odor

: a particular smell The odor of flowers filled my room. … the air was … thick with the smell of body odor.— Pam Muñoz Ryan, Esperanza Rising

Other Words from odor

odorless \ ˈō-​dər-​ləs \ adjective


variants: or chiefly British odour \ ˈōd-​ər How to pronounce odour (audio) \

Medical Definition of odor

1 : a quality of something that stimulates the olfactory organ : smell
2 : a sensation resulting from adequate chemical stimulation of the olfactory organ a disagreeable odor

Other Words from odor

odored or chiefly British odoured adjective
odorless or chiefly British odourless adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on odor

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for odor

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with odor

Spanish Central: Translation of odor

Nglish: Translation of odor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of odor for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about odor

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