Pronunciation Noun


  1. A sensation, pleasant or unpleasant, detected by inhaling air (or, the case of water-breathing animals, water) carrying airborne molecules of a substance.
    I love the smell of fresh bread.
    • 1908, Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
      The penetrating smell of cabbage reached the nose of Toad as he lay prostrate in his misery on the floor, and gave him the idea for a moment that perhaps life was not such a blank and desperate thing as he had imagined. But still he wailed, and kicked with his legs, and refused to be comforted. So the wise girl retired for the time, but, of course, a good deal of the smell of hot cabbage remained behind, as it will do, and Toad, between his sobs, sniffed and reflected, and gradually began to think new and inspiring thoughts: of chivalry, and poetry...
  2. (physiology) The sense that detects odours.
  3. A conclusion or intuition that a situation is wrong, more complex than it seems, or otherwise inappropriate.
    • 2018 Schroers, Carl (February 8, 2018), “Chapter 8”, in Wrestling with Time Lost, Lulu Press
      “I’m just saying, this has a bad smell to it.”
Synonyms Translations Translations Verb

smell (smells, present participle smelling; past and past participle smelled)

  1. (transitive) To sense a smell or smells.
    Synonyms: detect, sense
    I can smell fresh bread.
    Smell the milk and tell me whether it's gone off.
  2. (intransitive) Followed by like or of if descriptive: to have a particular smell, whether good or bad.
    Synonyms: pong, reek, stink, whiff
    The roses smell lovely.
    Her feet smell of cheese.
    The drunkard smelt like a brewery.
  3. (intransitive, without a modifier) To smell bad; to stink.
    Ew, this stuff smells.
  4. (intransitive, figurative) To have a particular tincture or smack of any quality; to savour.
    A report smells of calumny.
    • 1649, John Milton, Eikonoklastes
      Praises in an enemy are superfluous, or smell of craft.
  5. (obsolete) To exercise sagacity.
  6. To detect or perceive; often with out.
    • c. 1601–1602, William Shakespeare, “Twelfe Night, or VVhat You VVill”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act II, scene iii]:
      I smell a device.
  7. (obsolete) To give heed to.
    • From that time forward I began to smell the Word of God, and forsook the school doctors.
Translations Translations

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