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

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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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Most fragrances smell strong to me and elicit all kinds of emotions. Jessica Matlin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Rooney Mara Breaks Down Her Beauty Routine," 11 Oct. 2018 The first appointment is quite intensive, with lots of questions, smelling, and analysis of your tastes and personality. Nicole Berrie, Condé Nast Traveler, "These Gorgeous European Souvenirs Are Made Just For You," 28 Sep. 2018 Ammonia—one nitrogen atom bonded to three hydrogen atoms—may not seem like an ideal fuel: The chemical, used in household cleaners, smells foul and is toxic. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "Ammonia—a renewable fuel made from sun, air, and water—could power the globe without carbon," 12 July 2018 Sufferers report smelling hydrogen sulfide (rotten eggs), bad perfume, garbage, a gas leak, wet dog, pungent body odor or spoiled fish or feces. NBC News, "Phantom smells may be a sign of trouble," 10 July 2018 On the other hand, Confederate jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, smells great! Walter Reeves, ajc, "Confederate jasmine is excellent for an arbor," 4 July 2018 Pumping blood through our veins, making our heart beat in our chest, allowing us to move, drive, walk, travel, see, smell, hear, taste and FEEL love, happiness and positive energy. Blake Bakkila, Health.com, "This Woman Took Two Different Photos in the Same Outfit to Prove How Deceptive Social Media Is," 12 June 2018 Clutter, distractions, smells, and illnesses spread quickly in a room without partitions. Atossa Abrahamian, Bloomberg.com, "Everyone Hates the Open-Plan Office. It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way," 1 May 2018 Detectives scoped out the Meech Avenue warehouse, smelled raw marijuana and got a judge to sign a search warrant, according to court records. Adam Ferrise, cleveland.com, "Man charged in sophisticated pot operation in Cleveland served prison sentence in similar 2009 case," 17 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Someone compared the smell of the wine to cow dung. Valeriya Safronova, New York Times, "The Proof Is in Their Palates," 10 July 2018 Two young men stood just off the deck cutting and cleaning the bright pink fillets on a recent Friday afternoon, the smell of fish in the air. Anchorage Daily News, "‘Pretty devastating’: After years of poor king salmon runs, renowned Kenai River sport fishing community adjusts," 7 July 2018 Police said Cofield, 34, had bloodshot eyes and the smell of alcohol on his breath. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "Ex-NFL lineman Barry Cofield arrested for heroin possession, DUI, among other charges," 6 July 2018 By that time the air will be pleasantly funky-citrus tinged, mingling with your sweat and the musty warm smell of your apartment. Kelly Conaboy, The Cut, "The Perfect Candle for Those Trying to Enjoy the Heat Wave," 6 July 2018 On a weekday afternoon on South Beach, the sound of reggae and the smell of marijuana were in the air. Jacob Sweet, miamiherald, "Lots of sun, and brown slimy seaweed, in the forecast for South Florida beaches," 3 July 2018 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Step into Lambeau Field Live at Summerfest and you will be greeted by the sight of bright green turf and the smell of sizzling bacon. Elena Weissmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Lambeau Field Live at Summerfest features the Packers, virtual reality and crispy bacon," 1 July 2018 Firefighters descended on the complex to investigate reports of an explosion and the smell of gasoline. Melissa Etehad, latimes.com, "Feud between residents at Long Beach senior living facility led to fatal shooting of firefighter, authorities say," 27 June 2018 The smell of cilantro, lots of onions, garlic—that’s comforting. Jennifer Goldstein, Marie Claire, "Lupita Nyong'o & Saoirse Ronan Teamed Up to Create Your New Go-To Perfume," 22 Aug. 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

1 Dec 2018

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 \
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

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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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