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adjective, mus·ti·er, mus·ti·est.
  1. having an odor or flavor suggestive of mold, as old buildings, long-closed rooms, or stale food.
  2. obsolete; outdated; antiquated: musty laws.
  3. dull; apathetic.
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Origin of musty1

1520–30; perhaps variant of moisty (Middle English; see moist, -y1) with loss of i before s as in master
Related formsmus·ti·ly, adverbmus·ti·ness, noun


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for mustiness

Historical Examples

  • Sections of the flooring and woodwork also reeked with mustiness.

    Astounding Stories of Super-Science February 1930


  • 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.


    Henry James, Junr.

British Dictionary definitions for mustiness


adjective -tier or -tiest
  1. smelling or tasting old, stale, or mouldy
  2. old-fashioned, dull, or hackneyedmusty ideas
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Derived Formsmustily, adverbmustiness, noun

Word Origin

C16: perhaps a variant of obsolete moisty, influenced by must ³
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 mustiness



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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper