From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishsmellsmell1 /smel/ ●●● S2 W3 noun 1 [countable]SMELL the quality that people and animals recognize by using their nosesmell of The air was filled with the smell of flowers. What’s that horrible smell?2 [countable]SMELL an unpleasant smell I think the smell’s getting worse.3 [uncountable]SMELL the ability to notice or recognize smells loss of taste and smell Dogs have a very good sense of smell.4 [countable usually singular]SMELL an act of smelling something Have a smell of this cheese; does it seem all right?COLLOCATIONSadjectivesstrongThere was a strong smell of burning in the air.faint (=not strong)I noticed a faint smell of perfume.overpowering (=very strong)The smell of disinfectant was overpowering.nice/pleasant/lovelyThere was a lovely smell of fresh coffee.bad/unpleasant/horrible etc The smell in the shed was awful.a strange/funny/odd smellWhat’s that funny smell?a sweet smellShe liked the sweet smell of hay in the barn.a delicious smell (=a pleasant smell of food)There were delicious smells emanating from the kitchen. a sickly smell (=sweet and unpleasant)the sweet, sickly smell of decaying human flesha pungent smell formal (=strong and unpleasant)A pungent smell of garlic filled the air.an acrid smell (=strong and bitter)The acrid smell of smoke clung about the place.a musty/stale/sour smell (=old and not fresh)The clothes in the wardrobe had a damp musty smell.verbshave a strong/sweet etc smellThe flowers had a lovely sweet smell.be filled with a smellThe house was filled with the smell of baking bread.give off a smell (=produce a smell)Rubber gives off a strong smell when it is burned.notice/smell a smell (also detect a smell formal)He detected a faint smell of blood.a smell comes from somewhere (also a smell emanates from somewhere formal)A delicious smell of baking came from the kitchen.He was getting complaints about the smell emanating from his shop.a smell wafts somewhere (=moves there through the air)The smells wafting up the stairs from the kitchen were making her feel hungry.COMMON ERRORS ► Don’t say ‘feel the smell of something’. Say smell something. THESAURUSsmell something that you can recognize by breathing in through your nosethe smell from the kitchenWhat’s that awful smell?the sweet smell of roses whiff something that you smell for a short timeHe caught a whiff of her perfume.a whiff of apple blossomscent a smell – used especially about the pleasant smell from flowers, plants, or fruit. Also used about the smell left by an animalThe rose had a beautiful scent.Cats use their scent to mark their territory.the sharp, dying scent of autumnthe heady scent (=strong scent)of magnolias fragrance/perfume a pleasant smell, especially from flowers, plants, or fruit. Fragrance and perfume are more formal than scentthe sweet perfume of the orange blossoms Each mango has its own special fragrance.aroma formal a pleasant smell from food or coffeethe aroma of fresh coffeeThe kitchen was filled with the aroma of mince pies.odour British English, odor American English formal an unpleasant smellAn unpleasant odour was coming from the dustbins.the odor of stale tobacco smokepong British English informal an unpleasant smellWhat’s that horrible pong?stink/stench a very strong and unpleasant smellI couldn’t get rid of the stink of sweat.The toilet gave off a terrible stench.
Examples from the Corpussmell• There's a smell in here - open the window.• Rain wet de bags and de onions tek up a smell.• The stuffiness in the hold was made worse by the acrid smell of unwashed bodies.• Each wine has its own unique flavor and smell.• There was a bad smell coming from the cupboard.• A mole finds its food by smell alone.• We had the carpet cleaned, but we couldn't get rid of the musty smell.• Perfectly pure water has no smell.• When I was a kid I loved the seashore for its mix of beautiful, subtle colours and strong smells.• What's that smell? Is something burning?• Where's that smell coming from?• And it's not just the dizzying development and the smell of money that pervades the downtown area.• The food looked good, but the smell was awful.• I really hate the smell of stale beer.• The stench of the floor was close to him, the smell of vomit and of urine.• There was the smell of fermenting has and citrus blossoms and ginger lilies and bonemeal and sulphur-coated urea.• A little while later; his eyes shot open with the smell of frying meat.• The smells of dead fish and rotting garbage were more than he could stand.• The wonderful smells from the kitchen made her mouth water.smell of• The smell of baking bread filled the whole house.sense of smell• Blind people often have a much better sense of smell than other people.• A super-efficient sense of smell is no longer vital to our existence.• We do not have a very good sense of smell, and as a result we are often tactless when handling animals.• Her sense of smell has gone, along with her ability to taste, and her hearing isn't too reliable either.• Humans' sense of smell is not very well developed.• Pigs have a keen sense of smell, which is why they are used to find truffles.• They lose their keen sense of smell and direction when the wind picks up like this.• Smoking can really ruin a person's sense of smell.• A good example is the sense of smell.• The sense of smell is good.• Lindsay had solved the problem of trailering the stallions together by temporarily wrecking their communication through their sense of smell.• The first reasonably reliable and convincing learning task for Drosophila involved training them using just this sense of smell.smellsmell2 ●●● S2 W3 verb (past tense and past participle smelled especially American English or smelt /smelt/ British English) 1 notice a smell [transitive]SMELL to notice or recognize a particular smellcan smell something I can smell burning. Can you smell something?2 have a smell [linking verb]SMELL to have a particular smellsmell good/sweet/delicious/fresh etc The stew smelled delicious. Mm! Something smells good!smell bad/funny/awful etc The water smells funny.smell of/like something My clothes smelt of smoke. It smells like rotten eggs.sweet-smelling/foul-smelling etc sweet-smelling flowersSmell is a linking verb in this meaning. It links the subject of the sentence with an adjective: The cream smells funny (=it has a strange smell).3 have a bad smell [intransitive]SMELL to have an unpleasant smell Your feet smell! The room smelled to high heaven (=had a very bad smell).4 put your nose near something [transitive]SMELL to put your nose near something in order to discover what kind of smell it has SYN sniff She bent down and smelt the flowers.5 have ability [intransitive]SMELL to have the ability to notice and recognize smells I’ve got a cold and I can’t smell. 6 → smell trouble/danger etc7 → smell a rat8 → smell wrong/fishy/odd etc → come up/out smelling of roses at rose1(6)COLLOCATIONS – Meaning 2: to have a particular smelladjectivessmell good/nice etcThe food smelled good.smell deliciousThat soup smells delicious.smell freshRub your chopping board with lemon to keep it smelling fresh.smell sweetA ripe melon will smell sweet.smell bad/awful etcCigarettes make your clothes smell awful.smell funny/strangeThis place smells funny sometimes.adverbssmell strongly of somethingThe man smelled strongly of alcohol.smell faintly of somethingHis suit smelled faintly of tobacco. • The verb smell is not usually used in the progressive. You say: I smell gas.That smells nice. ✗Don’t say: I am smelling gas. | That is smelling nice.• You often say someone can smell something when describing what they smell: I can smell gas.I could smell her perfume.• The present participle smelling is used to form adjectives such as sweet-smelling and foul-smelling. → smell something ↔ out→ See Verb table
Examples from the Corpussmell• Take the garbage out before it starts to smell.• We need to clean the cat's litter box - it's starting to smell.• Look for their Hair Glistener - it leaves hair smelling irresistible and creates subtle, glittering highlights in your hair.• Does my breath smell?• He could even smell a packet of cigarettes hidden in a coat pocket several metres away!• Not only does he smell bad - he's mean and ugly too.• The snow smelled clean, but like a hospital.• Trouble is, my tenant on the second floor can smell coffee from my kitchen on the first floor.• He thought he could smell dope; grass or resin fumes.• If you smell gas in the apartment, call this number immediately.• Diane smelled his breath to see if he'd been drinking.• The meat smelled horrible, and I refused to eat it.• It smells like a hospital in here - has someone been using disinfectant?• This hand cream smells lovely, what's it called?• I swear I haven't had anything to drink. Smell my breath.• She smelled of alcohol and was unsteady on her feet.• The house whole house smells of garlic - what are you cooking?• Do you smell smoke?• I can smell something burning - are you sure you turned the oven off?• Many people like the taste of jackfruit, but it smells terrible.• Hoist your honker to the skies and smell the burning charcoal and dripping, burning fat.• She could smell the chemical effluent off the agricultural land: she couldn't remember having noticed that stench before.• For one shot, he zooms in over a sawmill, low enough to smell the fresh-cut lumber.• Smell these roses - aren't they lovely?smell of/like something• Your perfume smells like roses.