smell

verb
\ ˈsmel How to pronounce smell (audio) \
smelled\ ˈsmeld How to pronounce smell (audio) \ or chiefly British smelt\ ˈsmelt How to pronounce smell (audio) \; 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

Synonyms: Noun

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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 Livid fans smell greed and politicians across the EU are slamming the idea. David Meyer, Fortune, "Is your office ready for pets?," 19 Apr. 2021 The clean, vegan formulas smell incredible, and result in the kind of glossy, gorgeous hair the actress is known for. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Priyanka Chopra Jonas's Date Night Hair Routine," 19 Apr. 2021 Plus, a suspiciously inexpensive Lotus Esprit makes an appearance thanks to contributor Jonathon Ramsey's incredible ability to find sketchy listings that look and smell like scams. Tony Quiroga, Car and Driver, "Replacing a BMW M3 for $20,000: Window Shop with Car and Driver," 26 Feb. 2021 The fire safety group encourages people to use flameless candles, which can look and smell like real candles. Nour Rahal, Detroit Free Press, "'Don't get caught up in the heat of the moment,' on Valentines Day, group warns," 11 Feb. 2021 Because of this, the shop should look and smell as clean as a hospital. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "23 Things You Need to Know Before You Get Your First Tattoo," 6 Aug. 2020 Add the rice, sprinkle with salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until the grains start to look translucent and smell toasty, about 3 minutes. The New York Times News Service Syndicate, The Denver Post, "Braised chicken thighs and other weeknight possibilities," 7 June 2020 Water heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 Celsius) is poured over the grounds and the graders smell the wet coffee. Isis Almeida, Fortune, "The quality of your coffee may soon be determined by a robot," 16 Apr. 2021 But the share is growing as corporations smell the potential for hefty profits. Cary Spivak, jsonline.com, "Out-of-state corporate landlords are gobbling up Milwaukee homes to rent out, and it's changing the fabric of some neighborhoods," 15 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Please refrain from donating encyclopedias, textbooks and any books that have a musty/smoky smell or may have been tarnished from mildew. courant.com, "Community news for the Enfield edition," 30 Apr. 2021 Large piles of trash were seen near the front door, and a foul smell emanated from inside the home, investigators said. Tiffini Theisen, orlandosentinel.com, "Sheriff: Children removed from Florida home filled with trash, roaches, feces," 22 Apr. 2021 Disinfectant is a common smell around athletic areas, and refillable water bottles for one person, and one person only, are a must. Joseph Hoyt, Dallas News, "How high school wrestling, a sport all about close contact, may have been best equipped to handle COVID-19," 21 Apr. 2021 Above hung a dense swarm of insects and a dark, sweet smell like rotting tea leaves. Jonas Eika, The New Yorker, "Alvin," 12 Apr. 2021 If these first episodes were better made, the fact that Whedon’s name leaves a fishy smell on the whole show would be more of a shame. Kathryn Vanarendonk, Vulture, "The Nevers Is an Unimpressive Monument to Joss Whedon’s Obsessions," 9 Apr. 2021 At the outset, smoke and a strong burning smell leaked into the ballpark, even with the roof and outdoor panels closed, from a large fire at a nearby recycling plant. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers assistant athletic trainer Dave Yeager hospitalized after second light-headed episode late Saturday night," 4 Apr. 2021 One whiff of a familiar smell can send us right back to that moment. Southern Living, "This $22 Rose-Scented Mist Is One Beauty Ritual I'm Never Giving Up," 2 Apr. 2021 Then along came more of the funky odors with people having a pungent smell about them. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Caucus Club in Detroit warns diners to dress properly, not smell like marijuana," 25 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for smell

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for smell

Last Updated

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Smell.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/smell. Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce smell (audio) \
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 How to pronounce smell (audio) \
smelled\ ˈsmeld How to pronounce smell (audio) \ or smelt\ ˈsmelt How to pronounce smell (audio) \; 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

Comments on smell

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