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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from smell

Verb

smeller noun

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

One problem with this pollinator attractant and sweet-smelling plant is its brittle wood is affected by strong winds. Tom Maccubbin, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Caterpillar invasion isn't end for healthy tree," 14 July 2018 Bacterial vaginosis can lead to fishy-smelling discharge that’s thin and gray or white. Korin Miller, SELF, "Does Vaginal Discharge Change at All During Pregnancy?," 3 July 2018 The exhibition finale between the Angels and Dodgers was cut short because of a foul-smelling leak that spilled sewage onto the field in the fifth inning. Jill Painter Lopez, Houston Chronicle, "Sewage leak spills onto field during game at Dodger Stadium," 28 Mar. 2018 The exhibition finale between the Angels and Dodgers was cut short because of a foul-smelling leak that spilled sewage onto the field in the fifth inning. CBS News, "Sewage spills onto Dodger Stadium field, game cut short," 28 Mar. 2018 Buy Photo The odor was so strong, Nicole Thompson could smell it on the first floor. Vinny Vella, Philly.com, "A Bucks County couple kept 31 cats in squalor. A new state law is helping prosecute them.," 7 July 2018 Never one to turn down a challenge though, both take a sip — starting with Sudler-Smith, who smells it first and then quickly spits it out. Dave Quinn, PEOPLE.com, "Shep Drinks Camerans' Breast Milk on Southern Charm: 'God Knows He's Never Turned Down a Shot'," 21 June 2018 The Senses: Design Beyond Vision, a new exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt design museum in New York City, is a survey of sensory design, or design that appeals to all of our senses: touch, smell, sound, taste, and vision. Diana Budds, Curbed, "The future of design is tactile, aromatic, and euphonious," 26 Apr. 2018 And smells amazing and cannot give enough props on the fun and inventive packaging! Marci Robin, Allure, "Kim Kardashian Sent Drew Barrymore Her New Kimoji Peach Fragrance and She's Loves It," 14 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Read More Owner David Tepper: Panthers blessed with Ron Rivera, 'a pretty good football side' The whole thing doesn’t pass the smell test with me, though. Scott Fowler, charlotteobserver, "Jerry Richardson's parting gift to fans, David Tepper: A statue of limitations," 10 July 2018 That's a primary reason why the debate going on in the US over whether Trump is under Kremlin influence doesn't pass the smell test among Russians. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, "Upcoming Trump-Putin summit gives Russians hope for US thaw," 3 July 2018 The smell was so bad passengers were nauseous and allegedly began to faint, according to Newsweek. Alexia Fernandez, PEOPLE.com, "Man Who Smelled So Bad a Plane Had to Make Emergency Landing Dies a Month Later of Necrosis," 27 June 2018 But the claims about a quick bounce back in credit score did not pass the smell test. Michael Taylor, San Antonio Express-News, "What to do with too much credit card debt?," 3 June 2018 And so is the smell of barbecue, and tacos, and burritos, and gelato. cleveland.com, "Northeast Ohio 2018 food truck guide -- 50 and counting, plus weekly event info (photos)," 2 May 2018 The mother has fallen in love with the smell of Play-Doh and stashes open cans all over the house. Ramona Ausubel, New York Times, "Flawed, Fragile, Hungry Human Bodies: A.M. Homes’s Stories Get Under the Skin," 4 July 2018 With the smell of hot dogs on the grill and cars still rolling into the lots, Cinnaminson native Dane Hardy stood over his bright red grill. Mitchell Gladstone, Philly.com, "Who are all these Yankees fans invading Phillies' Citizens Bank Park?," 27 June 2018 Police said there was a foul odor coming from the room that officers associated with the smell of a decomposing body. Sarah Brookbank, Cincinnati.com, "Police: Woman kept boyfriend's body in Sharonville motel room for 4 days after OD death," 15 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about smell

Dictionary Entries near smell

smeek

smeeth

smegma

smell

smellable

smellage

smell-feast

Statistics for smell

Last Updated

20 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for smell

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!