Synonyms & Antonyms of smell

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 to become aware of by means of the sense organs in the nose
  • we smelled the aroma of freshly baked cookies as soon as we walked in the house

Synonyms for smell

Words Related to smell

2 to have a vague awareness of
  • I smell something fishy about this situation

Synonyms for smell

Words Related to smell

3 to be objectionable or unsatisfactory
  • that movie smells—I wouldn't waste my money on it if I were you

Synonyms for smell

  • bite
  • [informal + sometimes impolite],
  • stink,
  • suck
  • [informal + sometimes impolite]

Antonyms for smell



Synonyms & Antonyms of smell (Entry 2 of 2)

1 the quality of a thing that makes it perceptible to the sense organs in the nose
  • the smell of vanilla is supposed to be very soothing

Synonyms for smell

Words Related to smell

3 a special quality or impression associated with something
  • a law firm with a mahogany-lined boardroom that has the discernible smell of money and power

Synonyms for smell

Words Related to smell

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About smell

How does the noun smell contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of smell are aroma, odor, and scent. While all these words 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

When is it sensible to use aroma instead of smell?

The meanings of aroma and smell largely overlap; however, aroma suggests a somewhat penetrating usually pleasant odor.

the aroma of freshly ground coffee

How are the words odor and smell related?

Odor may imply a stronger or more readily distinguished scent or it may be equivalent to smell.

a cheese with a strong odor

When could scent be used to replace smell?

Although the words scent and smell have much in common, scent applies to the characteristic smell given off by a substance, an animal, or a plant.

the scent of lilacs

Keep scrolling for more

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

Cite this Entry

“Smell.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on smell

Dictionary: Definition of smell

Medical Dictionary: Definition of smell

Nglish: Translation of smell for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of smell for Arabic Speakers 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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

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


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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