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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 obsolete; outdated; antiquated: musty laws.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 musty

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

Synonyms for musty

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noun, plural mus·ties.
  1. (formerly) a kind of snuff having a musty flavor.
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Origin of musty

First recorded in 1700–10; noun use of musty1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for musty

putrid, ancient, crumbling, stale, fetid, decrepit, moldy, smelly, airless, dank, squalid, stuffy, threadbare, antediluvian, antique, decayed, dirty, dry, filthy, frowzy

Examples from the Web for musty

Contemporary Examples of musty

Historical Examples of musty

  • 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 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 for musty

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 musty


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper