20 Words to Describe Smell

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Smell is one of our most evocative senses, often tied closely to memories and experiences. From the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee to the sharp tang of citrus, describing smells can enhance our communication, particularly in writing.

This blog post explores 20 descriptive words that can help articulate various olfactory experiences. Whether you’re painting a scene in a story, describing a meal, or recalling a day at the beach, these terms will add depth and clarity to your descriptions.

Words to Describe Smell

1. Fragrant

Meaning: Having a pleasant scent.

Example: The room was fragrant with lilac.

2. Pungent

Meaning: A sharp, strong smell.

Example: The cheese had a pungent odor.

3. Stench

Meaning: An unpleasant, strong smell.

Example: The stench of rotting meat was overpowering.

4. Aromatic

Meaning: Sweet-scented; often used for spices.

Example: The kitchen was aromatic with herbs.

5. Musky

Meaning: A heavy, warm, slightly animalistic scent.

Example: His cologne was rich and musky.

6. Putrid

Meaning: Rotten, decaying smell.

Example: The putrid smell of garbage filled the alley.

7. Acrid

Meaning: Sharp, bitter smell that stings the nose.

Example: Smoke from the fire was acrid.

8. Foul

Meaning: Very unpleasant smell.

Example: The foul smell made her gag.

9. Fresh

Meaning: Clean and pure smell.

Example: The air after the rain smelled fresh.

10. Sweet

Meaning: Pleasingly sugary smell.

Example: The scent of roses was sweet.

11. Earthy

Meaning: A smell reminiscent of damp soil or rain.

Example: The forest smelled earthy and alive.

12. Fishy

Meaning: Smelling of fish, often used to describe something suspicious.

Example: There was a fishy odor coming from the cooler.

13. Floral

Meaning: Smelling of flowers.

Example: She wore a floral perfume.

14. Spicy

Meaning: Having the aroma of spices.

Example: The air was spicy with cinnamon.

15. Citrusy

Meaning: Smelling of citrus fruits like oranges or lemons.

Example: The cleaner left a citrusy smell.

16. Woody

Meaning: A smell that suggests forests or cut wood.

Example: The cabin had a woody, comforting scent.

17. Minty

Meaning: Having a cool, fresh smell of mint.

Example: His breath was minty fresh.

18. Smoky

Meaning: Smell resembling smoke.

Example: The barbeque was smoky and inviting.

19. Rancid

Meaning: Unpleasant smell of decomposing oils or fats.

Example: The rancid butter spoiled the dish.

20. Perfumed

Meaning: Artificially scented, often sweet and strong.

Example: The lotion was heavily perfumed.

Words to Describe Smell


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