smell


smell
smell,[/p] scent, odor, aroma all denote a property of a thing that makes it perceptible to the olfactory sense.
Smell not only is the most general of these terms but tends to be the most colorless. It is the appropriate word when merely the sensation is indicated and no hint of its source, quality, or character is necessary
{

our horses . . . often reared up and snorted violently at smells which we could not perceive— Landor

}
{

the smells of these offices—the smell of dental preparations, floor oil, spittoons and coal gas— Cheever

}
It is also the preferred term when accompanied by explicitly qualifying words or phrases
{

the rank smell of weeds— Shak.

}
{

the rented coarse black gown... gave out a musty smell, as though it had been lying long disused— Wouk

}
{

a smell of marigold and jasmine stronger even than the reek of the dust— Kipling

}
and occasionally, even when unqualified, it implies offensiveness
{

traced the smell to a stopped-up drain

}
{

Cobden was much upset when he saw the middle classes leaving the smells of the . . . towns for the scents of the countryside— Lewis & Maude

}
Scent tends to call attention to the physical basis of the sense of smell and is particularly appropriate when the emphasis is on the emanations or exhalations from an external object which reach the olfactory receptors rather than on the impression produced in the olfactory centers of the brain
{

the scent of the first wood fire upon the keen October air— Pater

}
{

if the air was void of sound, it was full of scentGalsworthy

}
{

the heavy scent of damp, funereal flowers— Millay

}
{

presently a scent came with it, dank and pervasive. It was the must of the forest— Hervey

}
but scent can apply specifically to emanations evidencing the passing of a body (as an animal) and may suggest a high level of sensory efficiency in a perceiver
{

the dog caught the scent of a rabbit

}
or from its use as a synonym of perfume the term may suggest a pleasant quality
{

the rich, vital scents of the plowed ground— Glasgow

}
Odor is oftentimes indistinguishable from scent, for it too can be thought of as something diffused and as something by means of which external objects are identified by the sense of smell. But the words are not always interchangeable, for odor usually implies abundance of effluvia and therefore does not suggest, as scent often does, the need of a delicate or highly sensitive sense of smell
{

the odors of the kitchen clung to her clothes

}
{

he smelled her perfume, a sweet pungent odor, intimately coquettish— Styron

}
{

gave off a kind of sweetish rich animal-vegetable odor, such as one associates with the tropics— Purdy

}
For these reasons odor usually implies general perceptibility and is the normal word in scientific use especially when the classification or description of types is attempted
{

science, while recognizing the potency of our sense of smell, has not yet satisfactorily classified and catalogued the many varieties of odors that we recognize— Morrison

}
Aroma usually adds to odor the implication of a penetrating, pervasive, or, sometimes, a pungent quality; it need not imply delicacy or fragrance, but it seldom connotes unpleasantness, and it often suggests something to be savored, with the result that it is used of things that appeal both to the sense of smell and taste or by extension to one's aesthetic sense
{

the fresh river smell, rank and a little rotten, and spiced among these odors was the sultry aroma of strong boiling coffee— Wolfe

}
{

an atmosphere, impalpable as a perfume yet as real, rose above the heads of the laughing guests. It was the aroma of enjoyment and gaiety— Gibbons

}
{

the aroma of a wood fire is the significant part of a camper's delight— Morrison

}
Analogous words: *fragrance, redolence, perfume, bouquet, incense: savor, flavor (see TASTE)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Smell — (sm[e^]l), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Smelled}, {Smelt}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Smelling}.] [OE. smellen, smillen, smullen; cf. LG. smellen, smelen, sm[ o]len, schmelen, to smoke, to reek, D. smeulen to smolder, and E. smolder. Cf. {Smell}, n.] 1. To… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • smell — [smel] vt. smelled or [Chiefly Brit.] Brit. smelt, smelling [ME smellen < OE * smyllan < IE base * smel , to burn slowly > SMOLDER: basic sense “to give off smoke”] 1. to be or become aware of by means of the nose and the olfactory… …   English World dictionary

  • smell — smell; smell·able; smell·age; smell·er; smell·ful; smell·fun·gus; smell·ie; smell·i·ness; …   English syllables

  • Smell — Smell, n. [OE. smel, smil, smul, smeol. See {Smell}, v. t.] (Physiol.) 1. The sense or faculty by which certain qualities of bodies are perceived through the instrumentally of the olfactory nerves. See {Sense}. [1913 Webster] 2. The quality of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Smell — Smell, v. i. 1. To affect the olfactory nerves; to have an odor or scent; often followed by of; as, to smell of smoke, or of musk. [1913 Webster] 2. To have a particular tincture or smack of any quality; to savor; as, a report smells of calumny.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • smell — verb. The form for the past tense and past participle in BrE is smelled or smelt; in AmE smelled is usually preferred. When the verb is used intransitively, the quality of the smell is normally expressed either by a phrase introduced by of or by… …   Modern English usage

  • smell — (v.) late 12c., emit or perceive an odor, also (n.) odor, aroma, stench; not found in O.E., perhaps cognate with M.Du. smolen, Low Ger. smelen to smolder (see SMOLDER (Cf. smolder)). OED says no doubt of O.E. origin, but not recorded, and not… …   Etymology dictionary

  • smell — [n] odor aroma, bouquet, emanation, essence, flavor, fragrance, incense, perfume, redolence, savor, scent, spice, stench, stink, tang, trace, trail, whiff; concepts 590,599 smell [v1] perceive with the nose breathe, detect, discover, find, get a… …   New thesaurus

  • smell|y — «SMEHL ee», adjective, smell|i|er, smell|i|est. having or giving out a strong or unpleasant smell: »I wonder what makes the sea so smelly. I don t like it (Rudyard Kipling). SYNONYM( …   Useful english dictionary

  • Smell — may refer to:* Olfaction, the sense of smell, the ability of humans and other animals to perceive odors * Odor * In programming, a code smell is a symptom in the source code of a program that something is wrong …   Wikipedia