\ 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 This will also work for fresh paint odor and other stubborn, lingering odors. Washington Post, "Hints From Heloise: Getting rid of lingering odors isn’t pricey," 18 Sep. 2020 The chemicals in portable toilets break down the organic material, kill bacteria and viruses that may live in the tank and address the odor. Nicole Hvidsten, Star Tribune, "Are portable potties safe during the pandemic?," 17 Sep. 2020 When the suspect finally left to go to the library, family members went to the bags and noticed a strange odor, Taylor said. Emma Austin, The Courier-Journal, "Police: Man traveled to Illinois with dismembered body in suitcases after Louisville homicide," 16 Sep. 2020 Its odor has been likened to decaying fish or garlic. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "A gas found on Earth has been detected in the clouds on Venus," 14 Sep. 2020 Add ammonia to cans and bags to reduce odors that attract bears and periodically clean garbage cans with ammonia to reduce residual odor. Zach Murdock, courant.com, "Record numbers of bears are entering Connecticut homes this year, DEEP warns numbers will continue to rise this fall as bears bulk up for winter," 14 Sep. 2020 While solids and liquids descend the network, sewer gases -- often detectable by their odor -- sometimes rise through pipes in the absence of sufficient water, said Morawska, who wasn’t part of the research team. Jason Gale, Bloomberg.com, "Coronavirus in Vacant Apartment Implicates Toilet in Spread," 28 Aug. 2020 The officer noted that the man’s speech was slurred, his eyes were glassy and the officer smelled the odor of an alcoholic beverage. Bruce Geiselman, cleveland, "Hotel guests get into a fight: North Olmsted Police Blotter," 8 Aug. 2020 Barrientos observed red blood shot eyes, slurred speech, and smelled an odor of alcoholic beverage emitting from the driver’s breath/person. Houston Chronicle, "Bellaire Police Department weekly report," 3 Aug. 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

21 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Odor.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/odor. Accessed 27 Sep. 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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