\ˈrēk \

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 \ 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

The house reeked of human waste, and the evidence of starvation was obvious, with the oldest of 13 siblings weighing just 82 pounds. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "In 911 call after escape, Turpin sibling describes horrific abuse, being "chained up"," 20 June 2018 My hair, my backpack, my clothes—all of it reeks of smoke and pork shoulder. Mitch Goldich,, "PyeongChang 2018 Journal: A First-Timer Experiences Just How Big the Winter Olympics Are," 25 Feb. 2018 Authorities said their home reeked of human waste and the evidence of starvation was obvious, with the oldest of 13 siblings weighing just 82 pounds. Amy Taxin And Michael Balsamo, Fox News, "Hearing set for California parents accused of shackling kids," 20 June 2018 That would be frustrating, and reeking of white male privilege, if the film didn't redeem itself with interesting female characters., "Mission Impossible: Fallout Is As Wild & Fun As Henry Cavill's Mustache," 12 July 2018 In a prime real estate area off Syntagma Square is a 2,600-square-meter listed building from 1955, the marble entrance reeking of urine. Washington Post, "AP PHOTOS: Life, and value, for derelict Greek properties," 10 July 2018 Policy, politics and personality all clashed in windowless rooms reeking of stale coffee. Time, "President Trump Is Making It Harder for Congress to Stop Family Separations," 19 June 2018 His conversation with Blagojevich about who to appoint to Barack Obama’s empty Senate seat reeked of tokenism, disrespect and dismissiveness toward African-Americans. Dahleen Glanton,, "Lack of exciting Democratic candidates could give us another four years of Rauner," 20 Mar. 2018 The car, driven by Giovanni Dante White, 24, reeked of marijuana when Peterson approached it, a police report alleges. Shane Dixon Kavanaugh,, "State trooper dragged along I-5 by suspected drug trafficker in southern Oregon," 22 Feb. 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


\ˈrēk \

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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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).


obstinately defiant of authority

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