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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Smells of pine needles (all our best places smell a little of pine … dugouts, campsites, world-class observatories). Chris Erskinecolumnist, Los Angeles Times, "Postcard From L.A.: In the moon glow of Mt. Wilson, go find your place in the cosmos," 15 July 2019 Investigators smelled smoke in a nearby home, broke their way into the home and found the two kids and woman inside, Williams said. Adam Ferrise, cleveland.com, "Two children, woman found dead inside Cleveland home next to field where man was shot to death," 9 July 2019 The officer said Karl had bloodshot eyes and smelled of booze. Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post, "Denver fire captain suspended after intoxicated-driving conviction," 3 July 2019 By Randy Ribay Xavier stood apart from the crowd, leaning against the concrete pillar, black knit cap pulled low over his ears and hands buried deep in the pockets of a threadbare coat, which still smelled of the St. Anthony’s donation bin. Veronica Chambers, New York Times, "Viewfinders: 10 Y.A. Novelists Spin Fiction From Vintage Photos," 28 June 2019 Anything fast and smelling of petrol seems to flick the switch. Devan Coggan, EW.com, "Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, and Idris Elba gear up for Fast & Furious spin-off Hobbs & Shaw," 27 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The main thrust was, 'Don't think of us as sanitized, like a project has to pass a political smell test. Tatiana Siegel, The Hollywood Reporter, "Obamas Settling Into New Role as Netflix Producers," 7 Aug. 2019 Not me personally, but our expert competition staff spent weeks carefully procuring all of the various exotic smells. Lynette Rice, EW.com, "Big Brother producer says size of Gr8tful alliance is 'ridiculous'," 5 July 2019 The lack of gravity causes a phenomenon known as fluid shift, leaving the head feeling congested, which in turn affects the sense of smell and taste. Sarah-grace Mankarious, CNN, "Floating food: The history of eating in space," 19 July 2019 Mall said the utility adjusted its treatment process to ensure removal of any toxic elements and has increased utilization of a system that applies ozone to strip away smell and color from water. Kevin Spear, orlandosentinel.com, "Melbourne water supply found to contain potentially toxic algae," 19 July 2019 Coyotes move quickly, have a good sense of vision and smell and use their evasiveness to help them survive in the wild — and in suburban areas. Doug Phillips, sun-sentinel.com, "Another coyote spotted: ‘Keep your pets indoors,’ cops tell residents," 17 July 2019 Festa Italiana, Milwaukee's annual celebration of Italian heritage, fills the lakefront's Maier Festival Park with sights, sounds and smells Friday through Sunday. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "10 things to see, do and eat at Festa Italiana in 2019," 15 July 2019 Indeed, the smells and smears of newsprint are in decline. Tali Arbel, BostonGlobe.com, "Want a paper with your Starbucks coffee? Bring your own," 12 July 2019 Good smells and moisturized skin are two things that make everybody happy, and facial sprays will perk up your nose and your skin. Bon Appétit, "Daily Rewards Are a Necessary Pleasure," 17 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about smell

Dictionary Entries near smell

smeek

smeeth

smegma

smell

smellable

smellage

smell-feast

Statistics for smell

Last Updated

11 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for smell

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up smell? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a usually brief trip or an expedition

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
True or False

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!