smell

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

nose, scent, sniff, snuff, whiff

Synonyms: Noun

aroma, odor, redolence, scent, sniff

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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

There’s also evidence that smelling particular essential oils can lower blood pressure. April Long, Marie Claire, "Aromatherapy Perfumes: Do They Really Work?," 20 Feb. 2019 Yet, with all the cool people at this event, probably the coolest one was none other than Harlem’s own (and fashion’s finest), Dapper Dan, dripping in the best, smelling and looking like a million bucks. Danielle C. Belton, The Root, "Marvel's Luke Cage Premiere Party Was Cool and I Was Cool Too For Once," 24 June 2018 Sweat dribbles from beneath his 2018 Washington Capitals championship cap, smelling faintly of hops and barley. Alex Prewitt, SI.com, "The Great Wait Is Finally Over: After 13 Seasons, Alex Ovechkin Is a Stanley Cup Champion," 11 June 2018 The seal lifts his head, suddenly smelling seawater. Christina Tkacik, baltimoresun.com, "Free Marmalade: Harbor seal rescued by National Aquarium returned to seawater in Ocean City," 8 June 2018 Cyclists should slow down to see the scenery and smell the flowers of the butterfly gardens along the trail. Katie Parsons, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Central Florida a premiere spot for triathlon training," 18 May 2018 Moments later, a child smelled smoke and smoke alarms began sounding, fire officials said. Robert A. Cronkleton, kansascity, "Lightning strike thought to have started fire that destroyed Overland Park home," 12 June 2018 Not to mention, just one deep-frying session can leave your place smelling and feeling as greasy as fast food kitchen—I'm speaking from experience. Audrey Bruno, SELF, "Should You Get an Air Fryer? Here's What Food Bloggers and a Registered Dietitian Say," 31 Jan. 2019 At Degree, scientists work to calibrate the formula of different products to meet specific needs, such as smelling fresh or protecting against yellow underarm stains. Cassie Shortsleeve, Popular Mechanics, "How Scientists at Degree Men Test Antiperspirant," 20 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

With Christmas once again a year away, stocking stuffers look suspiciously like trash; for just one day, on December 26, Winter Candy Apple and Gingerbread Swirl eclipse the noxious smell of garbage. Jamie Lauren Keiles, Vox, "The bleak hope of the day-after-Christmas sale," 27 Dec. 2018 Nothing says holiday season like the smell of fresh fir trees. Anny Choi, Vogue, "Christmas Tree Ornaments So Fabulous You’ll Want to Admire Them All Year Long," 5 Dec. 2018 The smells of roasted vegetables and spices filled the air as the women chopped, tasted, and chatted. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Tells the Women of the Hubb Community Kitchen She's So "Happy" to Be Pregnant," 21 Nov. 2018 Red wine Like vinegar, fruit flies love the smell of wine. Lauren Piro, Good Housekeeping, "7 Genius Ways to Kill Fruit Flies," 11 July 2018 Nothing says summer quite like the smell of barbeque. Andrea Thelen, Ms, Detroit Free Press, "6 tips for healthy and safe grilling," 9 July 2018 Although not unpleasant, the smell is strong and took me a while to get used to. Talia Abbas, SELF, "This Balmy Face Wash Turned Me Into a Double-Cleansing Fanatic," 12 Nov. 2018 The smell of winter to me is a leaky two-stroke John Deere snowblower. James Lynch, Popular Mechanics, "The Joys of Shoveling Snow," 3 Dec. 2018 Horton relies on a cleaner with bleach in it (like this one) to really get the smells out. Audrey Bruno, SELF, "How to Clean Your Fridge and Keep It Fresh," 27 Oct. 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

10 Mar 2019

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 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 smelled (audio) \ or smelt\ ˈsmelt How to pronounce smelt (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

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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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