adjective, mus·ti·er, mus·ti·est.

having an odor or flavor suggestive of mold, as old buildings, long-closed rooms, or stale food.
obsolete; outdated; antiquated: musty laws.
dull; apathetic.

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



noun, plural mus·ties.

(formerly) a kind of snuff having a musty flavor.

Origin of musty

First recorded in 1700–10; noun use of musty1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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

smelling or tasting old, stale, or mouldy
old-fashioned, dull, or hackneyedmusty ideas
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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper