• A sensation, pleasant or unpleasant, detected by inhaling air (or, the case of water-breathing animals, water) carrying airborne molecules of a substance.
  • The sense that detects odours.


  • To sense a smell or smells.
  • Followed by like or of if descriptive: to have a particular smell, whether good or bad.
  • To smell bad; to stink.
  • To have a particular tincture or smack of any quality; to savour.
  • To detect or perceive; often with out.
  • To give heed to.
  • To smell of; to have a smell of


Similar words

Narrower meaning words


  • From Middle English smellen, smillen, smyllen, smullen, from Old English *smyllan, *smiellan, from Proto-West Germanic *smallijan, from Proto-Indo-European *smel-. The noun is from Middle English smel, smil, smul. Related to Saterland Frisian smeele, Middle Dutch smolen ("to burn, smoulder") (whence Dutch smeulen ("to smoulder")), Middle Low German smölen ("to be hazy, be dusty") (whence Low German smölen ("smoulder")), Low German smullen ("emit smoke"), West Flemish smoel ("stuffy, muggy, hazy"), Danish smul ("dust, powder"), Lithuanian smilkyti ("to incense, fumigate"), Lithuanian smilkti ("to smudge, smolder, fume, reek"), Lithuanian smalkinti ("to fume"), Middle Irish smál, smól, smúal, Russian смола́ ("resin, tar"). Compare smoulder, smother.

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