\ ˈsent \

Definition of scent 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : effluvia from a substance that affect the sense of smell: such as

a : an odor left by an animal on a surface passed over

b : a characteristic or particular odor especially : one that is agreeable

2a : power of smelling : sense of smell a keen scent

b : power of detection : nose a scent for heresy

3 : a course of pursuit or discovery throw one off the scent

4 : inkling, intimation a scent of trouble

6 : bits of paper dropped in the game of hare and hounds

7 : a mixture prepared for use as a lure in hunting or fishing


scented; scenting; scents

Definition of scent (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to perceive by the olfactory organs : smell

b : to get or have an inkling of scent trouble

2 : to imbue or fill with odor scented the air with perfume

intransitive verb

1 : to yield an odor of some specified kind this scents of sulfur also : to bear indication or suggestions

2 : to use the nose in seeking or tracking prey

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Other words from scent


scentless \ˈsent-ləs \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for scent

Synonyms: Noun

aroma, balm, bouquet, fragrance, fragrancy, incense, perfume, redolence, spice

Synonyms: Verb

incense, perfume

Antonyms: Noun

reek, stench, stink

Antonyms: Verb

stink up

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Choose the Right Synonym for scent


fragrance, perfume, scent, redolence mean a sweet or pleasant odor. fragrance suggests the odors of flowers or other growing things. the fragrance of pine perfume may suggest a stronger or heavier odor. the perfume of lilacs scent is very close to perfume but of wider application because more neutral in connotation. scent-free soaps redolence implies a mixture of fragrant or pungent odors. the redolence of a forest after a rain

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 scent in a Sentence


The flower has a wonderful scent. The dogs followed the fox's scent. The prisoner escaped because the dogs lost his scent.


The dog scented a rabbit. She scented the air with perfume.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Body Milk comes in six intoxicating scents, although the Pseudonym is the standout for smelling like summer romance. $55. Janna Mandell,, "Summer skin-care solutions by microclimate," 12 July 2018 Popular Science’s Kat Eschner reports that the scientists analyzed data from more than 100 experiments detailed in 23 lab studies of bees’ responses to floral scents. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "‘Safe’ Levels of Pesticide Still Hamper Bees’ Memory and Ability to Learn," 12 July 2018 Shortly after, the man dies while standing in line at the A&P. Was the phantom orange scent a warning sign of his impending doom? NBC News, "Phantom smells may be a sign of trouble," 10 July 2018 All three scents will be for sale on July 17 on Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kim Kardashian Is Dropping Three New Perfumes Inspired By Her Kimojis," 9 July 2018 The limited edition scent is perfectly light, ideal for freshening up before an evening at a beach bar or for spritzing on clothes that come out of your luggage smelling less than grand. Cara Kelly, USA TODAY, "Packing the ultimate weekender: Our favorite products for your carry-on or beach bag," 9 July 2018 With visitors tantalized about the scent advertised to be the equivalent of rotting flesh, Garden officials chose this time to place Alice outdoors, instead of in a greenhouse where previous titan arums have been displayed. Daniel I. Dorfman,, "Corpse flower makes repeat performance — this time outdoors — at Chicago Botanic Garden," 3 July 2018 What was even worse was when Zyniecki's husband, Mike, left his gear inside his car and the clothing heated up, and the campfire scent became even stronger. Samantha West, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Lots of Milwaukee firehouses lack laundry machines. Here's why that's a problem.," 3 July 2018 The blossom’s scent goes into the making of perfumes and other fragrances. Cassie Armstrong,, "Orange Blossom Day: How to observe in Central Florida," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Monnich’s kitchen also does a fine job with its charcuterie, especially the coarse-ground chicken-mushroom pâté scented with Madeira. Craig Laban,, "The Bercy adds French brasserie sheen to thriving Ardmore scene," 13 July 2018 LAKE AMADOR The Lake Amador Resort continues to release over 1,000 pounds of Mt. Lassen Hatchery rainbow trout per week, and bank anglers are scoring consistent limits with trout dough bait in bright colors scented with garlic. sacbee, "Fishing line: Striper action takes off near Colusa and on Feather River | The Sacramento Bee," 23 Apr. 2018 It’s made of cornstarch and kaolin clay, among a few moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, and is scented with jasmine. Louise Green, SELF, "5 Tips for Avoiding Inner-Thigh Chafing This Summer," 5 July 2018 The contrast of tangy fresh cheese and buttery olive oil, scented with herbs and spices is a contrast everyone loves. Anna Thomas Bates, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Need an easy slam-dunk for a potluck? Try marinated cheese," 4 July 2018 Measure 6 tablespoons scented sugar into a large mixing bowl (for brown-butter pastry). Leah Eskin,, "In debate over butter vs. brown butter, brown butter wins in this lemon bar recipe," 7 June 2018 The stabbing deaths of a Brooklyn couple may have been related to a dispute at their religious supply store of candles and scented oils in a nearby section of Brownsville, the police said on Thursday. Michael Wilson And Al Baker, New York Times, "Police Seek Motive in Stabbings at Brooklyn Home," 8 Feb. 2018 Expect a crash course in indigenous Colombian ingredients including lemongrass scented rainforest ants, delicate wild rodent meat, smoked rabbit, velvety cacay nut milk and tallo leaves garnished with crunchy Andean tuber salt. Claudia Mcneilly, Vogue, "Bogotá, Colombia, Is an Irresistible Dining Destination," 14 Jan. 2018 Part of what makes this 25-mile lemon blossom–scented stretch of coastline so appealing is the slight, constant frisson of danger. Alexander Lobrano, Town & Country, "Exploring Italy's Beautiful Coastal Towns," 2 June 2017

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for scent


Middle English sent, from Anglo-French sente, from sentir


Middle English senten, from Anglo-French sentir to feel, smell, from Latin sentire to perceive, feel — more at sense

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Statistics for scent

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scent

The first known use of scent was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for scent



English Language Learners Definition of scent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a pleasant smell that is produced by something

: a smell that is left by an animal or person and that can be sensed and followed by some animals (such as dogs)

: a slight indication of something that is going to happen or that might happen



English Language Learners Definition of scent (Entry 2 of 2)

: to become aware of (something) by smell

: to give (something) a pleasing smell


\ ˈsent \

Kids Definition of scent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an odor that is given off by someone or something … a little wind … brought a fresh scent of newly turned earth with it. —Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

2 : power or sense of smell The dog has a keen scent.

3 : a course followed in search or pursuit of something The reporter was on the scent of a story.


scented; scenting

Kids Definition of scent (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to become aware of or follow through the sense of smell The dog scented a rabbit.

2 : to get a hint of Aunt Petunia obviously scented danger, too … —J. K. Rowling, Sorcerer's Stone

3 : to fill with an odor : perfume Roses scent the air.

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