• synonyms


  1. a distinctive odor, especially when agreeable: the scent of roses.
  2. an odor left in passing, by means of which an animal or person may be traced.
  3. a track or trail as or as if indicated by such an odor: The dogs lost the scent and the prisoner escaped.
  4. perfume.
  5. the sense of smell: a remarkably keen scent.
  6. small pieces of paper dropped by the hares in the game of hare and hounds.
Show More
verb (used with object)
  1. to perceive or recognize by or as if by the sense of smell: to scent trouble.
  2. to fill with an odor; perfume.
Show More
verb (used without object)
  1. to hunt by the sense of smell, as a hound.
Show More

Origin of scent

1325–75; (v.) earlier sent, Middle English senten < Middle French sentir to smell < Latin sentīre to feel; (noun) Middle English, derivative of the v. Cf. sense
Related formsscent·less, adjectivescent·less·ness, nounnon·scent·ed, adjectiveout·scent, verb (used with object)o·ver·scent·ed, adjectiveun·scent·ed, adjectivewell-scent·ed, adjective
Can be confusedcents scents sense


1. See odor. 7. smell, sniff.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for scenting

Historical Examples

  • At this Chaigneux, scenting a loan, collapsed into the most lavish thanks.

    The Three Cities Trilogy, Complete

    Emile Zola

  • It was a delightful anticipation--like scenting a new fancy drink.

  • Their great ears were erected and their trunks outstretched as if scenting the air.

  • The girl, scenting something strange, was already at his elbow.

    The Wild Geese

    Stanley John Weyman

  • We were no sooner in than MacLachlan was scenting round and into this little house.

    John Splendid

    Neil Munro

British Dictionary definitions for scenting


  1. a distinctive smell, esp a pleasant one
  2. a smell left in passing, by which a person or animal may be traced
  3. a trail, clue, or guide
  4. an instinctive ability for finding out or detecting
  5. another word (esp Brit) for perfume
Show More
  1. (tr) to recognize or be aware of by or as if by the smell
  2. (tr) to have a suspicion of; detectI scent foul play
  3. (tr) to fill with odour or fragrance
  4. (intr) (of hounds, etc) to hunt by the sense of smell
  5. to smell (at)the dog scented the air
Show More
Derived Formsscented, adjectivescentless, adjectivescentlessness, noun

Word Origin

C14: from Old French sentir to sense, from Latin sentīre to feel; see sense
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 scenting



late 14c., sent "to find the scent of," from Old French sentir "to feel, smell, touch, taste; realize, perceive; make love to," from Latin sentire " to feel, perceive, sense, discern, hear, see" (see sense (n.)).

Originally a hunting term. The -c- appeared 17c., perhaps by influence of ascent, descent, etc., or by influence of science. This was a tendency in early Modern English, cf. scythe, and also scite, scituate. Figurative use from 1550s. Transitive sense "impregnate with an odor, perfume" is from 1690s. Related: Scented; scenting.

Show More



late 14c., "scent, smell, what can be smelled" (as a means of pursuit by a hound), from scent (v.). Almost always applied to agreeable odors.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with scenting


see throw off, def. 3.

Show More
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.