Definition of musk in English:



  • 1[mass noun] A strong-smelling reddish-brown substance which is secreted by the male musk deer for scent-marking and is an important ingredient in perfumery.

    • ‘Even the lightest, most flowery perfumes contain a trace of musk.’
    • ‘In the sixteenth century, for example, pungent animal scents such as musk and civet were very popular.’
    • ‘In China, these deer are now bred in captivity so that their musk can be harvested.’
    • ‘The preference for this specific cologne may have something to do with one particular ingredient: musk.’
    • ‘This updated version has less musk an provides more emphasis on the fruit-based top notes.’
  • 2A relative of the monkey flower, formerly cultivated for a musky fragrance which has been lost in the development of modern varieties.

    • ‘With two-thirds of an acre to tend, I stopped growing high-maintenance hybrid teas and turned to rugosas and hybrid musks - they're much easier and very satisfying alternatives.’
    1. 2.1Australian


Late Middle English: from late Latin muscus, from Persian mušk, perhaps from Sanskrit muṣka scrotum (because of the similarity in shape of the sac on the abdomen of a male musk deer in which musk is produced).