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[noun pur-fyoom, per-fyoom; verb per-fyoom, pur-fyoom] /noun ˈpɜr fyum, pərˈfyum; verb pərˈfyum, ˈpɜr fyum/
a substance, extract, or preparation for diffusing or imparting an agreeable or attractive smell, especially a fluid containing fragrant natural oils extracted from flowers, woods, etc., or similar synthetic oils.
the scent, odor, or volatile particles emitted by substances that smell agreeable.
verb (used with object), perfumed, perfuming.
(of substances, flowers, etc.) to impart a pleasant fragrance to.
to impregnate with a sweet odor; scent.
Origin of perfume
obsolete Italian
1525-35; earlier parfume (noun) < Middle French parfum, noun derivative of parfumer (v.) < obsolete Italian parfumare (modern profumare). See per-, fume
Related forms
perfumeless, adjective
perfumy, adjective
unperfumed, adjective
1. essence, attar, scent; incense. 2. Perfume, aroma, fragrance all refer to agreeable odors. Perfume often indicates a strong, rich smell, natural or manufactured: the perfume of flowers. Fragrance is usually applied to fresh, delicate, and delicious odors, especially from growing things: fragrance of new-mown hay. Aroma is restricted to a somewhat spicy smell: the aroma of coffee.
2. stench. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for perfumes
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He conceived it as a lying on couches amid cushions, sniffing Orient perfumes in scent-bottles.

    Musical Portraits Paul Rosenfeld
  • She was fond of perfumes, and this seemed to her the most delicious thing she ever smelt.

    Nine Little Goslings Susan Coolidge
  • The earth steamed and sweltered, and the perfumes of tropical blossoms stole out of the jungle and exhaled a heavy languor.

    Caravans By Night Harry Hervey
  • All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.

    Familiar Quotations John Bartlett
  • The French shepherds, during the time of the Crusades, were observed to use these perfumes.

  • Groups were selling and buying fruits, flowers and perfumes, bread, fish and wine.

    Saronia Richard Short
  • Go in with us; don't potter with pomatum and perfumes,—rubbish!

British Dictionary definitions for perfumes


noun (ˈpɜːfjuːm)
a mixture of alcohol and fragrant essential oils extracted from flowers, spices, etc, or made synthetically, used esp to impart a pleasant long-lasting scent to the body, stationery, etc See also cologne, toilet water
a scent or odour, esp a fragrant one
verb (pəˈfjuːm)
(transitive) to impart a perfume to
Word Origin
C16: from French parfum, probably from Old Provençal perfum, from perfumar to make scented, from per through (from Latin) + fumar to smoke, from Latin fumāre to smoke
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 perfumes



1530s, "fumes from a burning substance," from Middle French parfum (16c.), from parfumer "to scent," from Old Provençal perfumar or cognate words in dialectal Italian (perfumare) or Spanish (perfumar), from Latin per- "through" (see per) + fumare "to smoke" (see fume (n.)). Meaning "fluid containing agreeable essences of flowers, etc.," is attested from 1540s.


1530s, "to fill with smoke or vapor," from perfume (n.) or from Middle French parfumer. Meaning "to impart a sweet scent to" is from 1530s. Related: Perfumed; perfuming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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perfumes in the Bible

were used in religious worship, and for personal and domestic enjoyment (Ex. 30:35-37; Prov. 7:17; Cant. 3:6; Isa. 57:9); and also in embalming the dead, and in other funeral ceremonies (Mark 14:8; Luke 24:1; John 19:39).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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