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

The sergeant could smell alcohol on Munson and noticed his eyes were bloodshot and glassy, according to the complaint. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A paramedic gets probation after showing up to a training at the Elm Grove Police Department drunk and armed," 9 July 2019 Final night to celebrate the sights, sounds, smells and tastes from cultures around the world including India, China, Italy, France and Germany. Luann Gibbs, Cincinnati.com, "Things to do in Cincinnati this week: July 1-7," 30 June 2019 Don’t enter the water if bleeding: Sharks can smell and taste blood, and often track it to their prey. Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY, "A shark attack while snorkeling is extremely rare. Tips on how to avoid it," 27 June 2019 While talking to the man, the officer smelled marijuana and observed a pipe in the center console area. John Benson, cleveland.com, "North Olmsted golfer arrested for drunken driving: North Royalton Police Blotter," 26 June 2019 The inspectors smelled gas, and called the fire department, which found a gas leak, according to inspectors’ affidavits. Paris Martineau, WIRED, "How 9 People Built an Illegal $5M Airbnb Empire in New York," 24 June 2019 Super easy, smells like Christmas, and will impress everyone! Brian Manzullo, Detroit Free Press, "Candle company trolls Ohio with candle that smells like nothing," 19 Dec. 2018 High-wage, prealpine Linz is not a cheap place to smelt steel. The Economist, "The European steel industry is being clobbered," 28 June 2019 Add a little cinnamon to make the whole house smell good! Heloise, Washington Post, "Hints From Heloise: Creative cookies," 26 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The beginning of the war for me is always associated with the smell of lilacs. Svetlana Alexievich, Vox, "“They lay pink on the cinders”," 12 July 2019 Parting Shot With the smell of Old Style on their breath and all the arrogance earned from winning a single championship in the last century, Cubs fans are back in force at Coors Field. Matt Schubert, The Denver Post, "U.S. women’s national team kicks off its World Cup campaign today. Here’s what you need to know.," 11 June 2019 The marketplace is alive with the smell of barbequing meat and shopkeepers hawking unusual wares. Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics, "How Disney Built a Star Wars Planet," 3 June 2019 Add maple syrup, butter, salt, and lemon juice and cook, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture begins to thicken, deepen in color and smell like caramel, 5 to 8 min.; remove from heat. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Maple-Pear Tarte Tatin," 9 Oct. 2018 Scientists have determined that the atmosphere above the planet Uranus is full of a gas that makes the distant planet smell like rotten eggs. Eli Meixler, Time, "Scientists Say Uranus Really Does Smell Like Rotten Eggs. Here's Why," 24 Apr. 2018 There’s no smell in the world like that of the orange blossom. Amy Drew Thompson, orlandosentinel.com, "Love Orlando oranges? Celebrate the orange blossom for its national holiday," 27 June 2019 The sulfuric smell lingers, and steam rises over parts of the town. Liz Carlson, Outside Online, "8 Can't-Miss New Zealand Adventures," 24 June 2019 Her family will remember her lovely flower gardens, dozens of varieties of homemade Christmas cookies and the smell and luscious taste of apple and blueberry pies fresh from the oven. courant.com, "Irene Lasko," 23 June 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

14 Jul 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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