smell

verb
\ˈsmel \
smelled\ˈsmeld \ or smelt\ˈsmelt \; smelling

Definition of smell 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to perceive the odor or scent of through stimuli affecting the olfactory nerves : get the odor or scent of with the nose

2 : to detect or become aware of as if by the sense of smell I smell trouble

3 : to emit the odor of

intransitive verb

1 : to exercise the sense of smell

2a(1) : to have an odor or scent

(2) : to have a characteristic aura or atmosphere : smack the accounts … seemed to me to smell of truth— R. S. Bourne also : seem, appear the story didn't smell right

b(1) : to have an offensive odor : stink

(2) : to be of bad or questionable quality all this from the moral point of view smells— A. F. Wills

smell a rat

: to have a suspicion of something wrong

smell blood

: to sense an opponent's weakness or vulnerability

smell the roses

: to enjoy or savor life

smell

noun

Definition of smell (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the property of a thing that affects the olfactory organs : odor

2a : the process, function, or power of smelling

b : the sense concerned with the perception of odor

3a : a very small amount : trace add only a smell of garlic

b : a pervading or characteristic quality : aura the smell of affluence, of power— Harry Hervey

4 : an act or instance of smelling

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Other Words from smell

Verb

smeller noun

Synonyms for smell

Synonyms: Verb

nose, scent, sniff, snuff, whiff

Synonyms: Noun

aroma, odor, redolence, scent, sniff

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for smell

Noun

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 smell in a Sentence

Verb

She leaned over and smelled the flowers. I have a cold right now so I can't smell. I can't smell anything because I'm so stuffed up. I could smell dinner cooking. I think I smell gas. This car smells like mold. Can't you smell the profits?

Noun

the distinctive smell of onions Dogs have a keen sense of smell.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Bonus: The lucky recipient will be only one of 300 to own the sweet-smelling pièce de résistance. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "11 Hit Beauty Gifts for the Friend Who Has Everything," 28 Nov. 2018 Alternate with a delightful-smelling hand sanitizer, like this 32-once lavender gel ($24.35) from EO Botanical. Megan Barber, Curbed, "The ultimate van life shopping guide," 14 Nov. 2018 So, what was the inspiration behind this new venture? Beautiful cities and great-smelling hair, of course. Alyssa Hardy, Teen Vogue, "Jen Atkin Launches OUAI Fragrance in 4 Scents," 6 Nov. 2018 About 100 of his neighbors are living in tents and makeshift sheds and using foul-smelling improvised toilets in outdoor camps. Fox News, "Damaged buildings, graft haunt Mexico City year after quake," 18 Sep. 2018 From fragrances to face masks, the beauty industry is finally catching on to gender-neutral products, with brands like Aesop, Pancea, and Grown Alchemist all producing gorgeous-smelling, must-have items for the non-binary traveler. Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Gender-Neutral Beauty Products for Your Carry-On," 13 June 2018 Most fragrances smell strong to me and elicit all kinds of emotions. Jessica Matlin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Rooney Mara Breaks Down Her Beauty Routine," 11 Oct. 2018 The first appointment is quite intensive, with lots of questions, smelling, and analysis of your tastes and personality. Nicole Berrie, Condé Nast Traveler, "These Gorgeous European Souvenirs Are Made Just For You," 28 Sep. 2018 Ammonia—one nitrogen atom bonded to three hydrogen atoms—may not seem like an ideal fuel: The chemical, used in household cleaners, smells foul and is toxic. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "Ammonia—a renewable fuel made from sun, air, and water—could power the globe without carbon," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Post after post details how a kindly camper owner has cleaned, flushed, and added holding tank deodorant—yet, much to their dismay, a noxious smell still permeates their home on wheels. Megan Barber, Curbed, "RV toilets: Why I’ll never have a bathroom in my camper," 1 Nov. 2018 Either way, any pile of living or once-living ingredients eventually becomes compost, recognizable as a dark brown, crumbly fudge with a woodsy smell. Lee Reich, The Seattle Times, "Fall is the perfect time to build a compost bin," 16 Oct. 2018 Easy, right? Be forewarned, though: Tea tree oil has a strong medicinal smell that may or may not make your significant other whine loudly. Chloe Metzger, Marie Claire, "Tea Tree Oil Is the Best Acne Spot Treatment for Sensitive Skin," 24 Sep. 2018 Scientists can even train bees to stick out their tongues after smelling new scents associated with a nectar or sugar reward, meaning the bees learn that a new smell will provide them with food. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "‘Safe’ Levels of Pesticide Still Hamper Bees’ Memory and Ability to Learn," 12 July 2018 Generally, young wines have a fruity smell, while older wines have a more refined, subtle character. Heloise, Houston Chronicle, "A yearning for Bootlegger Beans," 10 July 2018 The officer noted a strong smell of alcohol emanating from his body. Madeleine Marr, miamiherald, "He was chasing a woman around with a golf club. The fun started when the cops arrived," 6 July 2018 Sleeping on Tehran rooftops meant a mild smell of asphalt and glittering antenna branches lining the sky to the ends of the city. Hedia Anvar, Longreads, "How To Build An Intellectual," 23 June 2018 Monetas’ office, in a five-story building, occupied rooms on a floor beneath the canton’s tax authorities and its government accountability office; the other tenants were dentists, and the corridors had a sharp antiseptic smell. Gideon Lewis-kraus, WIRED, "The Blockchain: A Love Story—And a Horror Story," 18 June 2018

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

Verb

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

Noun

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for smell

Verb

Middle English

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Learn More about smell

Dictionary Entries near smell

smeek

smeeth

smegma

smell

smellable

smellage

smell-feast

Statistics for smell

Last Updated

15 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for smell

The first known use of smell was in the 12th century

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More Definitions for smell

smell

verb

English Language Learners Definition of smell

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to use your nose to sense smells

: to be able to use your nose to sense smells

: to notice something because of its smell

smell

noun

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

: the quality of a thing that you can sense with your nose

: an unpleasant odor

: the ability to notice or recognize odors : the ability to smell things

smell

verb
\ˈsmel \
smelled\ˈsmeld \ or smelt\ˈsmelt \; smelling

Kids Definition of smell

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to detect the odor of by means of special cells located in the nose Stop and smell the flowers.

2 : to notice (something) because of its odor I think I smell gas.

3 : to have or give off an odor My dog smells wet.

4 : to sense as if by smelling I smell trouble.

smell

noun

Kids Definition of smell (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the sense by which a person or animal becomes aware of an odor

2 : the sensation gotten through the sense of smell : odor, scent

smell

verb
\ˈsmel \
smelled\ˈsmeld \ or smelt\ˈsmelt \; smelling

Medical Definition of smell 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to perceive the odor or scent of through stimuli affecting the olfactory nerves : get the odor or scent of with the nose

intransitive verb

: to exercise the sense of smell

smell

noun

Medical Definition of smell (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the property of a thing that affects the olfactory organs : odor

2 : the special sense concerned with the perception of odor

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More from Merriam-Webster on smell

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for smell

Spanish Central: Translation of smell

Nglish: Translation of smell for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of smell for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about smell

Comments on smell

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