\ ˈrēk How to pronounce reek (audio) \

Definition of reek

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 chiefly dialectal : smoke
2 : vapor, fog
3 : a strong or disagreeable fume or odor


reeked; reeking; reeks

Definition of reek (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to emit smoke or vapor
2a : to give off or become permeated with a strong or offensive odor a room reeking of incense
b : to give a strong impression of some constituent quality or feature a neighborhood that reeks of poverty
3 : emanate

transitive verb

1 : to subject to the action of smoke or vapor
2 : exude, give off a politician who reeks charm

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Other Words from reek


reeker noun
reeky \ ˈrē-​kē How to pronounce reeky (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for reek

Synonyms: Noun

funk, stench, stink

Synonyms: Verb


Antonyms: Noun

aroma, fragrance, perfume

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Examples of reek in a Sentence


a terrible reek coming from the garbage can couldn't see through the reek of smog and smoke surrounding the steel plant


those old sneakers reek something awful
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Known for being a bit of a jokester, the singer's 40-second preview reeks of haphazard satire and cringe-worthy cheesiness. Abby Jones, Billboard, "John Mayer Reveals Trailer For 'New Light' Video and It's So Bad, It's Almost Good: Watch," 24 May 2018 But another part of me is worried that this whole business reeks of quick-fix snake-oil that could drain money and energy away from the solutions to very serious social problems. Charles P. Pierce,, "Royals GM Dayton Moore Makes Bizarre and Troubling Choice to Host Anti-Porn Activists," 21 Mar. 2018 For instance, swiping a small amount of gilded shimmer on the lips instantly imparts a glamorous vibe and practically reeks of romance. Rebecca Shinners, Allure, "Valentine's Day Beauty Trends That Are Popular on Pinterest," 5 Feb. 2018 Union leadership exploits the loophole by steering donations to non-labor organizations that appear apolitical on the surface but reek of partisanship beneath. Richard Berman, Fortune, "Commentary: 40% of Union Members Vote Republican. So Why Does 99% of Union Advocacy Money Go to Liberal Groups?," 17 Jan. 2018 This latest Twitter gambit to make the brand less niche and more popular, however, reeks of desperation. Gregg Opelka, WSJ, "More Isn’t Better for Twitter," 3 Oct. 2017 Water quality has become dangerously poor, the air reeks of raw sewage, and the unemployment rate is approaching 50 percent, worse among the young. David M. Halbfinger, New York Times, "Palestinian Factions, Fatah and Hamas, Move Toward Reconciliation in Gaza," 2 Oct. 2017 Your pillow never squirms or snores or reeks of marijuana. Diana Spechler, Longreads, "Language Acquisition," 28 Oct. 2017 But while Part VII’s gestation reeks of lazy cynicism, Barbara Sachs had actually had some outsize aspirations for her first producing credit. Scott Meslow, GQ, "Friday the 13th," 13 Oct. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Overall, this process reeks of cronyism from the early days of rail. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Caltrain deciding alone, forcing it on everyone," 5 June 2019 The room also reeked of smoke and the walls had burnt marks, the Boston Herald reported. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Man charged after stabbing cousin's wife, 3 children and telling police they were killed by MS-13, officials say," 6 Sep. 2018 To play morality police after the fact reeks of the Cubs wanting to have their cake and eat it, too. Jon Tayler,, "The Cubs and Sammy Sosa Remain Mired in an Unfortunate Stalemate," 15 Jan. 2018 Unsteady on his feet, Brady had bloodshot and glassy eyes, slurred his words, and his breath reeked of alcohol, police said. Joshua Miller,, "State senator enters alcohol treatment," 28 Mar. 2018 That said, Cuccinelli’s anxiety reeks of overreading tea leaves, and more mainstream conservatives like National Review’s Ed Whelan have vigorously defended Kavanaugh on the case. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "Brett Kavanaugh likely gives the Supreme Court the votes to overturn Roe. Here’s how they’d do it.," 5 Oct. 2018 For some onlookers, the initial suicide framing of it all nevertheless reeks of yet another ploy by Erakat to get views on YouTube. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "A controversial YouTuber’s suicidal claims have fans questioning his motives," 24 Sep. 2018 The whole thing reeked of a man trying to protect his privilege. Gianluca Russo, Teen Vogue, "Former Victoria's Secret Shoppers React to Ed Razek's 'Fatphobic' Comments," 16 Nov. 2018 Today’s vampires, like today’s people, will seem domesticated compared with their reeking forebears, yet the modern hemophiles Ms. Atwood complains of are still helping us understand ourselves. Daniel Akst, WSJ, "‘The Vampire’ Review: Creatures Made for Haunting," 30 Oct. 2018

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for reek


Middle English rek, from Old English rēc; akin to Old High German rouh smoke

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Dictionary Entries near reek

reef sponge

reef tackle






Statistics for reek

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Time Traveler for reek

The first known use of reek was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for reek



English Language Learners Definition of reek

: to have a very strong and unpleasant smell
usually disapproving used to say that it is very obvious that someone or something has a lot of a specified thing usually + of


\ ˈrēk How to pronounce reek (audio) \

Kids Definition of reek

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a strong or unpleasant smell


reeked; reeking

Kids Definition of reek (Entry 2 of 2)

: to have a strong or unpleasant smell

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More from Merriam-Webster on reek

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with reek

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for reek

Spanish Central: Translation of reek

Nglish: Translation of reek for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of reek for Arabic Speakers

Comments on reek

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


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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