Smell Definition

smĕl
smelled, smelling, smells, smelt
noun
smells
That one of the five senses of the body by which a substance is perceived through the chemical stimulation of the olfactory nerves in the nasal cavity by particles given off by that substance.
Webster's New World
The characteristic stimulation of any specific substance upon the olfactory nerves; odor; scent.
Webster's New World
A similar sense in other animals, as insects' ability to perceive air-borne molecules with their antennae.
American Heritage Medicine
An act of smelling.
Webster's New World
That which suggests the presence or existence of something; trace; suggestion.
Webster's New World
Synonyms:
lookflavourflavorfeelingfeeltonespiritolfactory sensationolfactory perceptionodourodorolfactory modalityolfactionsense-of-smellaroma
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verb
smelled, smelling, smells, smelt
To be or become aware of by means of the nose and the olfactory nerves; detect the scent or odor of.
Webster's New World
To perceive or detect (something) by a chemosensory organ, such as an antenna.
American Heritage
To test by the scent or odor; sniff.
Smell the milk to tell if it's sour.
Webster's New World
To sense the presence or existence of.
To smell trouble.
Webster's New World
To inhale the air near (something); sniff.
Smiled as she smelled the rose.
American Heritage
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idiom
smell a rat
  • To suspect that something is wrong.
American Heritage
smell blood
  • To sense an opportunity for advantage at someone else's expense.
American Heritage
smell the roses
  • To spend time in leisurely enjoyment.
American Heritage
smell out
  • to look for or find by or as by smelling
Webster's New World
smell up
  • to cause to stink
Webster's New World
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Other Word Forms of Smell

Noun

Singular:
smell
Plural:
smells

Idioms, Phrasal Verbs Related to Smell

Origin of Smell

  • From Middle English smellen, smillen, smyllen, smullen, from Old English *smyllan, *smiellan (“to smell, emit fumes"), from Proto-Germanic *smuljanÄ…, *smaljanÄ… (“to glow, burn, smoulder"), from Proto-Indo-European *smelÉ™- (“to burn, smoke, smoulder; tar, pitch"). The noun is from Middle English smel, smil, smul (“smell, odour"). Related to Middle Dutch smōlen (“to burn, smoulder") (whence Dutch smeulen (“to smoulder")), Middle Low German smölen (“to be hazy, be dusty") (whence German Low German smölen (“smoulder")), 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 (“fire, gleed, embers, ashes"), Russian смола (smola, “resin, tar"). Compare smoulder, smother.

    From Wiktionary

  • Middle English smel of unknown origin

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

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