smell

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

But to smell it, taste it and see the gas chambers, the barracks and the barbed wire up close was life-altering. Bob Mckillop, Washington Post, "Why take our college basketball team to Auschwitz?," 3 July 2018 Her kitchen always smelled like fried meat and café, her bedroom a blend of Maja soap, bay rum, and Bal à Versailles perfume. Longreads, "La Otra," 26 June 2018 My deluxe paella — the one packed with a Noah’s ark of surf and turf — tasted and smelled like mussels gone bad, and the $46 pricetag only intensified the sting. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, "Review: New Dominion restaurant Acú Bistro Bar aims high but misses a few," 7 June 2018 The charges stem from an incident on Dec. 11, 2017, when St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's deputies stopped Richardson for a license plate violation, noticed smoke and smelled marijuana coming from the car, Montgomery's office reported in a news release. Kim Chatelain, NOLA.com, "Covington ex-con gets 20 years for possessing pot, gun," 15 May 2018 Wochit His blood smells like cologne and his hands feel like rich brown suede. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "Spend your 2018 Kentucky Derby in the company of 'The Most Interesting Man in the World'," 27 Apr. 2018 The former vice president was attacked Friday by a Bernie Sanders supporter for encroaching on her personal space at her 2014 campaign rally, smelling her hair and kissing the back of her head, leaving her uncomfortable. Karl Rove, WSJ, "Don’t Count Joe Biden Out," 3 Apr. 2019 Spare tire trash bag: Keep trash organized—and your van from smelling—with a water-resistant canvas trash bag that fits over your rear spare tire. Megan Barber, Curbed, "The ultimate van life shopping guide," 14 Nov. 2018 When a feud between Yeti coolers and the NRA heated up on social media over the weekend, competing cooler companies smelled opportunity. Ariella Gintzler, Outside Online, "Cooler Companies Capitalize on Yeti's Spat with the NRA," 24 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The smell of fish frying at Breedlove’s, wafting over from down the road, left him distracted—and hungry. Jared Diamond, WSJ, "The All-Star Pitcher Who Bought a Food Truck," 18 Apr. 2019 As long as the discharge is clear or white and has no bad smell, this is normal and nothing to be concerned about, confirms Dr. Tolaymat. Elizabeth Durand Streisand, Good Housekeeping, "What the Color of Your Vaginal Discharge Means, According to Gynos," 27 Nov. 2018 To track down food and ensure the survival of the colony, worker bees must draw on their knowledge of smells, patterns and efficient routes to and from the hive—a process that requires the insects to remember an encyclopedic amount of information. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "‘Safe’ Levels of Pesticide Still Hamper Bees’ Memory and Ability to Learn," 12 July 2018 Both sides give off the dull, musty smells of work-glove function: stale sawdust and grease pierced with top notes of gasoline. Liz Arnold, Longreads, "Making Peace with the Site of a Suicide," 11 July 2018 Dogs can also smell separately with each nostril, which gives them the ability to pinpoint the direction that the smell is coming from. Southern Living, "10 Things You Should Know About Your Dog," 3 July 2018 In other words, cells as ingredient, plants for mass: the animal cells provide the color, smell, or taste of meat, but not the substance. Joi Ito, WIRED, "Fake Meat, Served Six Ways," 2 July 2018 One striking thing on the casino's very first night: the absence of any noticeable cigarette smell, with the casino only hours old. Wayne Parry, chicagotribune.com, "2 Atlantic City casinos open a day early," 29 June 2018 His neighbors spoke his language, and the familiar smell of German bread, like the one his mother made back home, filled the air on Sundays, Blair wrote. Kristine Phillips, Washington Post, "The story of Donald Trump’s grandfather, who came to the U.S. as an unaccompanied minor," 27 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

19 May 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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