smell Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo
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Meaning of “smell” in the English Dictionary

"smell" in British English

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smellverb

uk   /smel/ us   /smel/ smelled or UK also smelt, smelled or UK smelt
  • smell verb (CHARACTERISTIC)

B1 [I, L only + adj] to have a particular quality that others can notice with their noses: My hands smell of onions. That cake smells good. There's something in the fridge that smells mouldy. Your feet smell (= have an unpleasant smell). Why don't you wash them?

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  • smell verb (DISCOVER)

B1 [T] to notice or discover something using the nose: Come and smell these flowers! Can you smell something burning? [+ (that)] Didn't you smell (that) the pie was burning? I can smell something rotten in the bottom of the fridge.
[T] informal to know about or be aware of a situation without having to be told about it: Brenda can smell trouble a mile off (= a long time in advance).

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  • smell verb (ABILITY)

B2 [I] to have the ability to notice or discover that a substance is present by using your nose: Humans can't smell as well as dogs. What I hate most about having a cold is not being able to smell.

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smellnoun

uk   /smel/ us   /smel/
  • smell noun (CHARACTERISTIC)

B1 [C] the characteristic of something that can be recognized or noticed using the nose: What's your favourite smell? I love the smell of orange blossoms. The marketplace was filled with delightful smells. There's a delicious smell in here. I wish we could get rid of that smell (= bad smell) in the bathroom.
the smell of sth literary
the particular character or feeling that someone or something has: She's still enjoying the sweet smell (= pleasant experience) of success after her victory in the world championships.

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  • smell noun (ABILITY)

B2 [U] the ability to notice or discover that a substance is present by using your nose: Smell is one of the five senses. Dogs have a very good sense of smell.

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  • smell noun (DISCOVER)

[S] mainly UK the act of putting your nose near something and breathing in so that you can discover its characteristics with your nose: Have a smell of this perfume.
-smelling
suffix uk   / -smel.ɪŋ/ / -smel.ɪŋ/
sweet-smelling flowers foul-smelling rubbish
(Definition of smell from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"smell" in American English

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smellnoun

us   /smel/
  • smell noun (ABILITY)

[U] the ability to notice or discover a substance in the air by using the nose: Smell is one of the five senses. Dogs have a very good sense of smell.
  • smell noun (CHARACTERISTIC)

[C] the characteristic of something that can be recognized or noticed using the nose: a sweet/strong/unpleasant smell the smell of flowers/perfume/coffee/paint I woke up to the smell of bacon and eggs. I wish we could get rid of that smell in the garage.
  • smell noun (DISCOVERY)

[U] the act of using your nose to discover the characteristic of a substance in the air: Have a smell of this thyme.

smellverb

us   /smel/
  • smell verb (DISCOVER)

[T] to become aware of or to discover something using the nose: Just smell this perfume! She smelled something burning. fig. Brenda can smell trouble a mile off. (= knows when there will be trouble.)
  • smell verb (USE ABILITY)

[I/T] to have the ability to notice or discover a substance in the air by using your nose: [T ] I have a cold and I can’t smell anything.
  • smell verb (HAVE CHARACTERISTIC)

to have a particular quality that people can notice with their noses: [I] My hands smell of onions. [I] It smells like you’ve been baking in here. [L] That soup smells good. [I] Your feet smell (= have an unpleasant smell).
(Definition of smell from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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