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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obsolete; outdated; antiquated: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.


[muhs-tee] /ˈmʌs ti/
noun, plural musties.
(formerly) a kind of snuff having a musty flavor.
First recorded in 1700-10; noun use of musty1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for musty
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Your bank-notes had a musty odour, as if they were fast decomposing into rags again.

    A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens
  • "You perceive I have the musty look of a solitary," said Davenport.

    The Mystery of Murray Davenport Robert Neilson Stephens
  • He was breathing in great gasps, and the air he breathed was thick and musty.

    When the Sleepers Woke Arthur Leo Zagat
  • At your age the learning and comparing of musty laws 19 would have been dull work for me.

    The Bondwoman Marah Ellis Ryan
  • Dear me, George, have you brought that musty old paper up here?

    Is He Popenjoy?

    Anthony Trollope
British Dictionary definitions for musty


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 musty

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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