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

Police did not smell it, and took for lab analysis a cigarette that appeared to have been dipped in an unknown substance. Thomas Jewell, cleveland.com, "Social Security check rerouted to Beachwood Inn: Orange Police Blotter," 19 July 2019 For cats, a diffuser or spray called Feliway, which is also available at pet stores and online, releases a pheromone that is a calming scent for cats (most humans can’t smell it). Tanya Edwards, BostonGlobe.com, "Here’s how to keep your pets from freaking out during summer fireworks," 26 June 2019 In one study, researchers treated young damselfish with high-CO2 water and then placed a plastic bag holding a predatory fish in their tank—so the damselfish could see the predator, but not smell it. Elizabeth Preston, Science | AAAS, "A growing sensory smog threatens the ability of fish to communicate, navigate, and survive," 20 June 2019 While the smoke levels may not reach the level of unhealthful standards, people may notice it and smell it. Mike Cruz, azcentral, "Maricopa County health watch for air quality on tap for Sunday," 15 June 2019 Doctors sounded the mysteries of their union by needling each brother at random, or feeding one of them asparagus and smelling the other’s urine. Julian Lucas, The New York Review of Books, "The Great Assimilationists," 21 Feb. 2019 One officer wrote in a report that McDowell smelled of alcohol. John Wisely, Detroit Free Press, "Malik McDowell's dreams crashed on his ATV: 'He's not the same person'," 28 July 2019 And then there's the star of the collection — the Strawberry Dream Color Palette ($48) — stocked with 15 matte and shimmery shades that actually smell subtly of strawberries. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Lunar Beauty Just Dropped Its New Strawberry Dream Makeup Collection," 27 July 2019 Cocktail cups smelling of passion-fruit juice and rum and cans of Medalla beer began circulating. Emily Witt, The New Yorker, "Puerto Rico’s Loud and Fervent Days of Protest," 26 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Maurice’s case and several other lawsuits against the sounds of church bells, cow bells, cicadas, and the pungent smells from farms have prompted a national debate over how to protect rural culture. Nicolas Vaux-montagny, BostonGlobe.com, "Cock-a-doodle-doo! French rooster crows over court win," 5 Sep. 2019 Make your marketing smell sweeter at askmrmarketing.com. Ramona Sentinel, "Ask Mr. Marketing: You should take a shower," 16 Aug. 2019 Perhaps best known for its pungent smell and medicinal properties, ginkgo actually boasts an impressive backstory. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Smithsonian Scientists Need Ginkgo Leaves to Study Climate Change—They Need Your Help," 6 Aug. 2019 Its smell is surprisingly strong, a sharp, insistent, artificial citrus note that’s a million miles from the scent of the sun shining on an orange grove. Bethany Jean Clement, Twin Cities, "Tang went to the moon and is still popular today (but not in the good old USA)," 20 July 2019 Later; back in the lunar module, its pungent smell—like gunpowder: The pleasure of adapting one’s movements to one-sixth of Earth’s gravity. Buzz Aldrin, Popular Mechanics, "Why I Walked on the Moon," 20 July 2019 The ladybugs came in a box, which immediately released their unique smell when Mullins and Westminster City Arborist Eric Schlitzer opened it. Catalina Righter, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Westminster releases 100,000 insects ... on purpose," 18 July 2019 Horback also notes that dogs look for more visual cues, such as bared teeth or flattened ears, in their kin, whereas pigs will often rely on their sense of smell from a fellow pig’s mouth and snout. Liz Langley, National Geographic, "Pet pigs can communicate with humans—especially when food is involved," 11 July 2019 The smell of tear gas from the police’s midnight eviction of the protesters had barely dispersed before the full-throated condemnation began. Time, "The Ransacking of Hong Kong's Legislature Prompts a 'Zero Tolerance' Warning From Beijing," 2 July 2019

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

8 Sep 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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