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

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 An officer interviewed Wood at the scene and could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage, according to the arrest citation. Billy Kobin, The Courier-Journal, "Man charged with murder and DUI after hitting woman's vehicle on Dixie Highway, police say," 5 Nov. 2019 The Officer initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle and upon approach of the vehicle, could smell a strong odor of marijuana emanating from within the vehicle. Houston Chronicle, "West University Place Police Department weekly report," 4 Nov. 2019 Because a deputy smelled the odor of marijuana, all three players were asked to step out and were handcuffed and questioned separately. Tom Silverstein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Packers pass rusher Za'Darius Smith ticketed for marijuana in car," 1 Nov. 2019 The officer met Gamble at his residence, handcuffed him and, as the officer searched him, smelled an odor of alcohol emanating from Gamble, the statement reads. Mary Grace Keller, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Sykesville man charged for allegedly punching, trying to strangle woman," 29 Oct. 2019 That’s the same vehicle Jones was in when he was arrested in Georgia, and admitted to authorities who smelled a foul odor, that the body of Casei Jones was in the back of the van. Richard Tribou, orlandosentinel.com, "Marion County murder investigation shows children stayed with family between time of mother’s and their deaths: report," 21 Oct. 2019 The California Highway Patrol said an officer smelled an odor of pot after stopping the van Monday in Anza, an unincorporated community in Riverside County. USA TODAY, "Rare yellow cardinal sighted, escaped goat caught, fossilized bear skull found: News from around our 50 states," 18 Oct. 2019 The California Highway Patrol says an officer smelled an odor of pot after stopping the van Monday in Anza, an unincorporated community in Riverside County. BostonGlobe.com, "$1 million of illegal marijuana seized in California - The Boston Globe," 18 Oct. 2019 Deputies had sought the warrant after showing up at the location earlier and smelling the same foul odor reported by the neighbor. Alex Riggins, San Diego Union-Tribune en Español, "Un ‘mal olor’ en Encinitas lleva a los agentes al cuerpo en descomposición de una mujer; hay investigación en curso," 9 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Our personal smells are impacted by our microbiomes. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Birds Sniff Each Other’s Bacteria to Help Choose a Mate," 11 Nov. 2019 Known as Buddha's hands, or fingered citron, these wild looking fruits are often eaten in China and India and are known for their strong, sweet smell. Tirion Morris, azcentral, "10 things we learned at the 2019 azcentral Wine & Food Experience," 4 Nov. 2019 Benny’s stores were known for their distinctive smell — a blend of inner tubes, motor oil and paint thinner, with just a hint of bug spray. BostonGlobe.com, "iconic Rhode Island-based retailer that closed up shop in 2017 after 93 years of business.," 4 Nov. 2019 There is no easy way to tell people that their smell is bothersome. Hannah Herrera Greenspan, chicagotribune.com, "How to tell a friend to cool it on the cologne," 1 Nov. 2019 Día de Los Muertos altars The altars are typically adorned with marigold flowers, which are known for their pungent smell. Natalia E. Contreras, Indianapolis Star, "'Instead of sadness, I feel joy': How Day of the Dead celebrations pay tribute to family," 31 Oct. 2019 This Atlas Obscura article by Vittoria Traverso introduces us to Kate McLean, an English artist who explores cities for their smells. Los Angeles Times, "Escapes: They did it! 20 meals for $20 on Hawaii Island," 17 Oct. 2019 The normal definition of compost is organic material in the state of decomposition to the degree that its smell and appearance does not reveal its source material. Calvin Finch, ExpressNews.com, "You have mulch and compost questions; we have answers," 3 Oct. 2019 Women have also been told to change their vaginal smell by eating certain foods, said Dr. Gunter. Halley Bondy, NBC News, "Dr. Gunter: How to be your own best health advocate," 24 Sep. 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

Statistics for smell

Last Updated

17 Nov 2019

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
How to pronounce smell (audio)

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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Comments on smell

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