a substance secreted in a glandular sac under the skin of the abdomen of the male musk deer, having a strong odor, and used in perfumery.
an artificial imitation of the substance.
a similar secretion of other animals, as the civet, muskrat, and otter.
the odor of musk or some similar odor.
Botany. any of several plants, as the monkey flower, having a musky fragrance.

Origin of musk

1350–1400; Middle English musk(e) (< Middle French musc) < Late Latin muscus (Medieval Latin moschus) < Late Greek móskos, móschos < Persian mushk Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for musk

Contemporary Examples of musk

Historical Examples of musk

  • She was also jealous because she didn't reek of musk like that boulevard work-horse.


    Emile Zola

  • His beard, moist with his tears, still stank of tobacco and musk.


    Emile Zola

  • You had best stand aside—you that are steeped in musk and fierceness.

  • He passed into the hall, which was cool and smelt like a wedding with a musk of flowers.


    Christopher Morley

  • In the retreat of the Hermes the smell of musk had evaporated.

    The Child of Pleasure

    Gabriele D'Annunzio

British Dictionary definitions for musk



a strong-smelling glandular secretion of the male musk deer, used in perfumery
a similar substance produced by certain other animals, such as the civet and otter, or manufactured synthetically
any of several scrophulariaceous plants of the genus Mimulus, esp the North American M. moschatus, which has yellow flowers and was formerly cultivated for its musky scentSee also monkey flower
the smell of musk or a similar heady smell
(modifier) containing or resembling muskmusk oil; a musk flavour

Word Origin for musk

C14: from Late Latin muscus, from Greek moskhos, from Persian mushk, probably from Sanskrit mushká scrotum (from the appearance of the musk deer's musk bag), diminutive of mūsh mouse
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 musk

late 14c., from Old French musc (13c.) and directly from Late Latin muscus, from Late Greek moskhos, from Persian mushk, from Sanskrit muska-s "testicle," from mus "mouse" (so called, presumably, for resemblance; see muscle). The deer gland was thought to resemble a scrotum. German has moschos, from a Medieval Latin form of the Late Greek word. Spanish has almizcle, from Arabic al misk "the musk," from Persian. Applied to various plants and animals of similar smell (e.g. musk-ox, 1744).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper