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verb (used with object)
  1. to fuse or melt (ore) in order to separate the metal contained.
  2. to obtain or refine (metal) in this way.

Origin of smelt1

1535–45; probably < Middle Dutch or Middle Low German smelten; cognate with German schmelzen to melt1, smelt


  1. a simple past tense and past participle of smell.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for smelting


  1. (tr) to extract (a metal) from (an ore) by heating

Word Origin

C15: from Middle Low German, Middle Dutch smelten; related to Old High German smelzan to melt


noun plural smelt or smelts
  1. any marine or freshwater salmonoid food fish of the family Osmeridae, such as Osmerus eperlanus of Europe, having a long silvery body and occurring in temperate and cold northern waters

Word Origin

Old English smylt; related to Dutch, Danish smelt, Norwegian smelta, German Schmelz


  1. a past tense and past participle of smell
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

Word Origin and History for smelting



mid-15c. (implied in smelter), from Dutch or Low German smelten, from Proto-Germanic *smelt- (cf. Old High German smelzan, German schmelzen "to melt"), from PIE *smeld-, variant of *mel- "soft." Thus the word is from a variant of the stem of Old English meltan "to melt" (see melt (v.)). Related: Smelted; smelting.



Old English smelt "sardine, small salmon-like sea fish," cognate with Dutch smelt "sand eel," Danish smelt (c.1600). OED notes that it has a peculiar odor (but doesn't suggest a connection with smell); Klein suggests a connection with the way the fish melts in one's mouth. Century Dictionary speculates it means "smooth" and compares Old English smeolt, smylt "serene, smooth."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

smelting in Science


  1. To melt ores in order to extract the metals they contain. Oxide ores, such as iron ore, are smelted with carbon, which serves as a fuel and changes the ore into a reduced metal.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.