Meaning of “sniff” in the English Dictionary

"sniff" in English

See all translations


uk /snɪf/ us /snɪf/

C2 [ I or T ] to smell something by taking air in through your nose:

He sniffed his socks to see if they needed washing.
Dogs love sniffing each other.
She sniffed at her glass of wine before tasting it.
Dogs are sometimes used at airports to sniff out (= find by smelling) drugs in people's luggage.
He was expelled from school for sniffing glue (= taking in the gas from glue because of the feelings of pleasure that this gives).

C2 [ I ] to take air in quickly through your nose, usually to stop the liquid inside the nose from flowing out:

You're sniffing a lot - do you have a cold?

[ T ] to speak in an unpleasant way, showing that you have a low opinion of something:

[ + speech ] "They didn't even serve wine at dinner!" she sniffed.

More examples

sniffnoun [ C ]

uk /snɪf/ us /snɪf/

a quick breath in through the nose to smell something, or to stop liquid in the nose from coming out:

Take a sniff of this medicine - it smells horrible, doesn't it?
"I don't think much of that idea," she said with a sniff (= an expression of a low opinion).

(Definition of “sniff” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"sniff" in American English

See all translations

sniffverb [ I/T ]

us /snɪf/

sniff verb [ I/T ] (SMELL)

to smell something by taking in air through the nose:

[ T ] Jack crushed a bit of dried grass between his fingers and sniffed its scent.

To sniff is also to quickly take in a breath through the nose.

sniff verb [ I/T ] (SHOW DISAPPROVAL)

to express a bad opinion of something or someone; to show disapproval:

[ I ] The museum’s front lawn does not need to be cluttered with silly pop art, sniffed a newspaper editorial.

Phrasal verb(s)

sniffnoun [ C ]


sniff noun [ C ] (QUICK SMELL)

a quick breath in through the nose to smell something:

She took a sniff of the medicine.

(Definition of “sniff” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)