to perceive the odor or scent of through the nose by means of the olfactory nerves; inhale the odor of: I smell something burning.
to test by the sense of smell: She smelled the meat to see if it was fresh.
to perceive, detect, or discover by shrewdness or sagacity: The detective smelled foul play.
to perceive something by its odor or scent.
to search or investigate (followed by around or about).
to give off or have an odor or scent: Do the yellow roses smell?
to give out an offensive odor; stink.
to have a particular odor (followed by of): My hands smell of fish.
to have a trace or suggestion (followed by of).
Informal. to be of inferior quality; stink: The play is good, but the direction smells.
Informal. to have the appearance or a suggestion of guilt or corruption: They may be honest, but the whole situation smells.
the sense of smell; faculty of smelling.
the quality of a thing that is or may be smelled; odor; scent.
a trace or suggestion.
an act or instance of smelling.
a pervading appearance, character, quality, or influence: the smell of money.
smell out, to look for or detect as if by smelling; search out: to smell out enemy spies.
smell up, to fill with an offensive odor; stink up: The garbage smelled up the yard.
Idioms about smell
- smell·a·ble, adjective
- smell-less, adjective
- outsmell, verb (used with object), out·smelled or out·smelt, out·smel·ling.
- un·smelled, adjective
- un·smell·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use smell in a sentence
“If there’s smell, it means that somehow air has been transported to where it shouldn’t go,” Morawska said in an interview.Scientists found coronavirus in a long-vacant apartment. A possible spreader? ‘Fecal aerosol plumes’ | Claire Zillman, reporter | August 27, 2020 | Fortune
After all, they have a much better sense of smell than do people.Viral scents? Dogs sniff out coronavirus in human sweat | Sharon Oosthoek | August 19, 2020 | Science News For Students
Newly remote workers are experimenting with scented workspaces, and their potential to make hours with an Excel spreadsheet feel, or at least smell, more like a day at the beach.Choosing a work-from-home scent can boost focus and productivity | Sarah Todd | August 4, 2020 | Quartz
For now, the study doesn’t touch upon the neural highways inside the brain that lead to conscious perception of smell—an obvious next question.A Highway to Smell: How Scientists Used Light to Incept Smell in Mice | Shelly Fan | July 1, 2020 | Singularity Hub
We could end up experiencing much of life alone at home, with no privacy, forgetting the importance of the touch and smell of cultural experiences.Virtual Reality Has Been Boosted by Coronavirus—Here’s How to Avoid It Leading Us to Dystopia | Alexandros Skandalis | June 24, 2020 | Singularity Hub
There is the smell here of an indecent rush for scapegoats, even before we know what really caused this crash.Annoying Airport Delays Might Prevent You From Becoming the Next AirAsia 8501 | Clive Irving | January 6, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
The smell of grilled meat mixes with the exotic wafts of cinnamon tea served with a mush of sweet brown dessert.The Photographer Who Gave Up Manhattan for Marrakech | Liza Foreman | January 6, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
There is a distinct smell of apples, which are handed out by volunteer workers.Inside the Smuggling Networks Flooding Europe with Refugees | Barbie Latza Nadeau | December 15, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
You can practically smell the sugar maples and wood violets.
“J.W. heard Hayden say softly, ‘You smell good,’” the papers report.
This gives to the second volume something of the smell of an apple store-room.
From early morn to early morn again, the hot winds continued, and the air was surcharged with the smell of burning plants.The Homesteader | Oscar Micheaux
One little girl attempted to smell at the trees in a drawing and pretended to feed some pictorial dogs.Children's Ways | James Sully
Chloride of Lime … bad smell … bad egg … white of egg … fowl … grain … flour … flour and water … milk fluid … milk.Assimilative Memory | Marcus Dwight Larrowe (AKA Prof. A. Loisette)
Surely it is not urbane to throw on another the burden of saying that he likes not the smell or the inhaling of burning tobacco.Tobacco; Its History, Varieties, Culture, Manufacture and Commerce | E. R. Billings.
British Dictionary definitions for smell
(tr) to perceive the scent or odour of (a substance) by means of the olfactory nerves
(copula) to have a specified smell; appear to the sense of smell to be: the beaches smell of seaweed; some tobacco smells very sweet
(intr often foll by of) to emit an odour (of): the park smells of flowers
(intr) to emit an unpleasant odour; stink
(tr often foll by out) to detect through shrewdness or instinct
(intr) to have or use the sense of smell; sniff
(intr foll by of) to give indications (of): he smells of money
(intr; foll by around, about, etc) to search, investigate, or pry
(copula) to be or seem to be untrustworthy or corrupt
smell a rat to detect something suspicious
that sense (olfaction) by which scents or odours are perceived: Related adjective: olfactory
anything detected by the sense of smell; odour; scent
a trace or indication
the act or an instance of smelling
- smeller, noun
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
Other Idioms and Phrases with smell
In addition to the idioms beginning with smell
- smell a rat
- smell fishy
- smell to high heaven
- smell up
- come up (smelling like) roses
- stink (smell) to high heaven
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.