smell

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

Other Words from smell

Verb

smeller noun

Synonyms for smell

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb This stance is simply to see, hear or smell better. al, 20 Sep. 2022 Those people are apologizing for the way their bins might smell. The Indianapolis Star, 20 Sep. 2022 The science of dog cognition mostly asks how dogs navigate our visual world, but Oliver notices the way dogs touch and smell the world in order to see it. Alexandra Horowitz, WSJ, 16 Sep. 2022 The findings, published last week in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, dig deeper into exactly what Milne can smell. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 12 Sep. 2022 This sampler lets her spritz and smell five of Sephora's best-selling perfumes from brands like Viktor & Rolf and Maison Margiela. Monique Valeris, Good Housekeeping, 26 Aug. 2022 Sweaty, stinky feet are never a good look—or smell for that matter! Sophie Dweck, Town & Country, 15 Aug. 2022 Panera Bread used to make its bread in the evening but shifted to daytime so that its stores smell more like bakeries, the Wall Street Journal has reported. Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN, 13 Aug. 2022 Look, feel, and smell your very best with this sweet body cream filled with firming ingredients. ELLE, 5 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Nearly all of the aerosol products available today are fume-free formulas that have little to no smell and can be used safely with proper ventilation and skin protection. Jamie Kim, Good Housekeeping, 13 Sep. 2022 The building, where 10 people were working, was cleared due to a strong smell of what is believed to have been polyurethane, Reynolds said. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, 12 Sep. 2022 Some persistent symptoms, like a loss of smell, are more unique to COVID-19 and thus easier to link to a previous infection. Los Angeles Times, 7 Sep. 2022 While waking up to the smell of homemade cinnamon rolls is the ultimate Saturday morning delicacy, not everyone has the time (or energy) to go full-on pastry chef and make them from scratch at 7 a.m. Bryce Jones, Better Homes & Gardens, 17 Aug. 2022 Researchers previously discovered that the parasite could make infected rats attracted to the smell of urine from predator cats. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 4 Aug. 2022 These should be buried or sealed in a trash bag since the flies are attracted to the smell of fermenting fruit. oregonlive, 18 June 2022 The combination of stagnant water, lint and grime trapped by the filter can lead to an unpleasant smell, especially if fresh laundry water hasn’t been pushed through the filter recently. Jeanne Huber, Washington Post, 23 May 2022 Marie on Christmas morning when the woman woke up to the smell of smoke and yelled for help. Audrey Conklin, Fox News, 25 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

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

Learn More About smell

Time Traveler for smell

Time Traveler

The first known use of smell was in the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near smell

smegma

smell

smellable

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for smell

Last Updated

22 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Smell.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/smell. Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for smell

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 smell (audio) \ or smelt\ ˈsmelt How to pronounce smell (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

More from Merriam-Webster on smell

Nglish: Translation of smell for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of smell for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about smell

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!