[ snif ]
See synonyms for: sniffsniffing on

verb (used without object)
  1. to draw air through the nose in short, audible inhalations.

  2. to clear the nose by so doing; sniffle.

  1. to smell by short inhalations.

  2. to show disdain, contempt, etc., by or as by sniffing.

verb (used with object)
  1. to perceive by or as by smelling: to sniff a scandal.

  2. to inhale through the nose: to sniff the air.

  1. an act of sniffing; a single, short, audible inhalation.

  2. the sound made by such an act.

  1. a scent or odor perceived: a sniff of perfume.

Origin of sniff

1300–50; Middle English; back formation from snivel

Other words from sniff

  • sniff·ing·ly, adverb

Words Nearby sniff Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sniff in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sniff


/ (snɪf) /

  1. to inhale through the nose, usually in short rapid audible inspirations, as for the purpose of identifying a scent, for clearing a congested nasal passage, or for taking a drug or intoxicating fumes

  2. (when intr, often foll by at) to perceive or attempt to perceive (a smell) by inhaling through the nose

  1. the act or sound of sniffing

  2. a smell perceived by sniffing, esp a faint scent

Origin of sniff

C14: probably related to snivelen to snivel

Derived forms of sniff

  • sniffing, noun, adjective

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