[ snif ]
/ snɪf /

verb (used without object)

verb (used with object)

to perceive by or as by smelling: to sniff a scandal.
to inhale through the nose: to sniff the air.


Nearby words

  1. snickersnee,
  2. snicket,
  3. snickometer,
  4. snide,
  5. snidely,
  6. sniff at,
  7. sniff out,
  8. sniffer,
  9. sniffer dog,
  10. sniffish

Origin of sniff

1300–50; Middle English; back formation from snivel

Related formssniff·ing·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sniff

British Dictionary definitions for sniff


/ (snɪf) /


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


the act or sound of sniffing
a smell perceived by sniffing, esp a faint scent
Derived Formssniffing, noun, adjective

Word Origin for sniff

C14: probably related to snivelen to snivel

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 sniff
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper