ol·​fac·​tion | \ äl-ˈfak-shən How to pronounce olfaction (audio) , ōl- \

Definition of olfaction

1 : the sense of smell
2 : the act or process of smelling

Examples of olfaction in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But that kind of distance doesn’t apply to olfaction. Quanta Magazine, "New AI Strategy Mimics How Brains Learn to Smell," 18 Sep. 2018 Your sense of smell, also called olfaction, is very powerful. Svenja Lohner, Scientific American, "Play a Memory Game with Your Nose!," 7 June 2018 Everything more complicated than that wafts up the back of your throat via a process called retronasal olfaction to an array of nerve endings dangling through a perforated bit of skull behind your nose called the cribriform plate. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "The Fundamental Nihilism of Yanny vs. Laurel," 16 May 2018 One goal for the Penn Vet group is to use dog olfaction data to screen for cancers for which there are no reliable early tests, like ovarian cancer. Kathryn Bowers, Slate Magazine, "How Dogs’ Sensitive Noses Could Change Cancer Diagnosis," 24 Apr. 2017 Past researchers have tackled the topic of olfaction navigation by blocking the bird's sense of smell or disrupting their magnetic sense, according to a press release. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Seabirds Use Their Sense of Smell to Navigate Open Water," 30 Aug. 2017 With each project, Yi appears to be intrigued by olfaction’s ability to manipulate how people discern the things in front of them—by, in effect, the subtle invasiveness of smell. Jane Yong Kim, The Atlantic, "Anicka Yi’s Strangely Persuasive World of Smells," 25 June 2017 And a better appreciation of the powers of human olfaction could be important, Dr. McCann said. Joanna Klein, New York Times, "Humans Have a Poor Sense of Smell? It’s Just a Myth," 11 May 2017 But these masters of olfaction aren’t just good for smelling out baddies— Charyn Pfeuffer, WIRED, "Meet the Poop-Sniffing Dogs That Are Saving Endangered Wildlife," 8 Feb. 2015

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

circa 1833, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for olfaction

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The first known use of olfaction was circa 1833

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Cite this Entry

“Olfaction.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/olfaction. Accessed 15 December 2019.

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More Definitions for olfaction


ol·​fac·​tion | \ äl-ˈfak-shən How to pronounce olfaction (audio) , ōl- How to pronounce olfaction (audio) \

Medical Definition of olfaction

1 : the sense of smell
2 : the act or process of smelling

More from Merriam-Webster on olfaction

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with olfaction

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about olfaction

Comments on olfaction

What made you want to look up olfaction? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


delight or enjoyment

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