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[muhs-tee] /ˈmʌs ti/
adjective, mustier, mustiest.
having an odor or flavor suggestive of mold, as old buildings, long-closed rooms, or stale food.
obsolete; outdated; antiquated:
musty laws.
dull; apathetic.
Origin of musty1
1520-30; perhaps variant of moisty (Middle English; see moist, -y1) with loss of i before s as in master
Related forms
mustily, adverb
mustiness, noun
1. dank, moldy, stale. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for mustiness
Historical Examples
  • Sections of the flooring and woodwork also reeked with mustiness.

  • The remedies for this malady are the same as those for mustiness.

  • The mustiness of dark rooms and corners, indeed, is proverbial.

    Notes on Nursing Florence Nightingale
  • On the other hand, it was damper than the outdoors and the mustiness was far from fragrant.

    Left Tackle Thayer Ralph Henry Barbour
  • As it is, the mustiness and mouldiness of the tenants of the House of the Seven Gables crumble away rather too easily.

    Hawthorne Henry James, Junr.
  • The heat had been turned higher after the noon recess, the courtroom growing sickly with a mustiness of flesh, disinfectant, dust.

  • Give it hempseed every day and be very certain the seed is sound and free from mustiness.

  • The bottles should be all sound, clean, and dry, and perfectly free from the least mustiness or other odour.

  • All mold and mustiness should be kept out by thorough ventilation and frequent coats of whitewash to the walls.

    Science in the Kitchen.

    Mrs. E. E. Kellogg
  • Gloom and mustiness were his first reward, but as his eyes became accustomed to the darkness he saw that he was in the kitchen.

    The Lilac Girl

    Ralph Henry Barbour
British Dictionary definitions for mustiness


adjective -tier, -tiest
smelling or tasting old, stale, or mouldy
old-fashioned, dull, or hackneyed: musty ideas
Derived Forms
mustily, adverb
mustiness, noun
Word Origin
C16: perhaps a variant of obsolete moisty, influenced by must³
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mustiness



1520s, perhaps a variant of moisty "moist, damp" (see moist). Related: Mustiness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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