English

Definition of smell verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

      

    smell

     verb
    verb
    BrE BrE//smel//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//smel//
     
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they smell
    BrE BrE//smel//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//smel//
     
    he / she / it smells
    BrE BrE//smelz//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//smelz//
     
    past simple smelled
    BrE BrE//smeld//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//smeld//
     
    past participle smelled
    BrE BrE//smeld//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//smeld//
     
    (British English also) past simple smelt
    BrE BrE//smelt//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//smelt//
     
    (British English also) past participle smelt
    BrE BrE//smelt//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//smelt//
     
    -ing form smelling
    BrE BrE//ˈsmelɪŋ//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈsmelɪŋ//
     
     
    jump to other results
  1. 1  [intransitive] to have a particular smell + adj. The room smelt damp. Dinner smells good. a bunch of sweet-smelling flowers smell of something His breath smelt of garlic. The house smelt of cedar wood and fresh polish. smell like something What does the perfume smell like?
  2. 2  [transitive, no passive] (not used in the progressive tenses; often with can or could) to notice or recognize a particular smell smell something He said he could smell gas when he entered the room. The dog had smelt a rabbit. I could smell alcohol on his breath. smell something doing something Can you smell something burning? smell (that)… I could smell that something was burning.
  3. 3[intransitive] (not used in the progressive tenses; often with can or could) to be able to notice and recognize smells I can't smell because I've got a bad cold.
  4. 4  [transitive] smell something (not usually used in the passive) to put your nose near something and breathe in so that you can discover or identify its smell synonym sniff Smell this and tell me what you think it is. I bent down to smell the flowers.
  5. 5  [intransitive] (not used in the progressive tenses) to have an unpleasant smell The drains smell. It smells in here. He hadn't washed for days and was beginning to smell.
  6. 6[transitive, no passive] smell something to feel that something exists or is going to happen He smelt danger. I can smell trouble.
  7. Word Origin Middle English: of unknown origin.Extra examples After a few days, the meat began to smell. Can you smell gas? He smelled faintly of sweat. His clothes smelled strongly of fish. I had a streaming cold, so I could not smell properly. It smells like rotten meat! Snow fell so that you could almost smell the cold. The kitchen smelled sweetly of herbs and fruit. You could practically smell the danger around us. It smells in here, can you open a window? Those drains smell.Idioms
    come up/out of something smelling of roses
     
    jump to other results
    (informal) to still have a good reputation, even though you have been involved in something that might have given people a bad opinion of you Nobody ever knew the details and he came out of the deal smelling of roses.
    a rose by any other name would smell as sweet
     
    jump to other results
    (saying) what is important is what people or things are, not what they are called
    (informal) to suspect that something is wrong about a situation
    wake up and smell the coffee
     
    jump to other results
    (informal) (usually in orders) used to tell somebody to become aware of what is really happening in a situation, especially when this is something unpleasant
    Phrasal Verbssmell out somebody
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: smell