From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishsmellsmell1 /smel/ ●●●S2W3 noun1[countable]SMELL the quality that people and animals recognize by using their nosesmell ofThe air was filled with the smell of flowers.What’s that horrible smell?2[countable]SMELL an unpleasantsmellI think the smell’s getting worse.3[uncountable]SMELL the ability to notice or recognize smellsloss of taste and smellDogs have a very good sense of smell.4[countable usually singular]SMELL an act of smelling somethingHave 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 Corpus
smell• There's a smell in here - open the window.• Rainwet de bags and de onions tek up a smell.• The stuffiness in the hold was made worse by the acridsmell 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 smellalone.• We had the carpetcleaned, but we couldn't get rid of the mustysmell.• Perfectly pure water has no smell.• When I was a kid I loved the seashore for its mix of beautiful, subtlecolours and strong smells.• What's that smell? Is something burning?• Where's that smell coming from?• And it's not just the dizzyingdevelopment 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 stalebeer.• The stench of the floor was close to him, the smell of vomit and of urine.• There was the smell of fermenting has and citrusblossoms and gingerlilies and bonemeal and sulphur-coated urea.• A little while later; his eyes shot open with the smell of fryingmeat.• The smells of deadfish and rotting garbage were more than he could stand.• The wonderfulsmells from the kitchen made her mouth water.smell of• The smell ofbakingbread 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 keensense of smell, which is why they are used to find truffles.• They lose their keen sense of smell and direction when the windpicks 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 convincinglearningtask for Drosophila involved training them using just this sense of smell.smellsmell2 ●●●S2W3 verb (past tense and past participle smelled especially American English or smelt /smelt/ British English)1notice a smell [transitive]SMELL to notice or recognize a particular smellcan smell somethingI can smell burning.Can you smell something?2have a smell [linking verb]SMELL to have a particular smellsmell good/sweet/delicious/fresh etcThe stew smelled delicious.Mm! Something smells good!smell bad/funny/awful etcThe water smells funny.smell of/like somethingMy clothes smelt of smoke.It smells like rotten eggs.sweet-smelling/foul-smelling etcsweet-smelling flowersGRAMMAR: Linking verbsSmell 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).3have a bad smell [intransitive]SMELL to have an unpleasant smellYour feet smell!The room smelled to high heaven (=had a very bad smell).4put your nose near something [transitive]SMELL to put your nose near something in order to discover what kind of smell it has syn sniffShe bent down and smelt the flowers.5have ability [intransitive]SMELL to have the ability to notice and recognize smellsI’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 rosesat 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.GRAMMAR: Using the progressive• 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