Definition of musty in English:



  • 1Having a stale, mouldy, or damp smell.

    ‘a dark musty library’
    • ‘The next moment, the musty smell of stale tobacco and ancient dust drifted through the darkness, and he half-opened his eyes.’
    • ‘He smelled musty and damp, like the cardboard box he presumably lived in.’
    • ‘The old wooden stairs gave way to concrete, and a foul musty smell filled the air.’
    • ‘I had never set foot in a courtroom before; it was cold and smelled like damp, musty wood.’
    • ‘The musty smell of paper beyond its age filled his lungs.’
    • ‘Brown vinegar also works well in smelly cupboards, especially those that have a musty or mouldy odour.’
    • ‘The musty smell of old books filled the air as I turned the ancient pages.’
    • ‘The inside of the cabin was dark, dank, and smelled musty.’
    • ‘In my mind I see the shelves of books and smell the musty fragrance of paper.’
    • ‘The corridors were very dimly lit, and there was an ancient smell of musty decay.’
    • ‘The ceilings had water stains and gave off a musty moldy smell.’
    • ‘The first sign of corkiness is a musty smell reminiscent of wet cardboard.’
    • ‘It smelt dank and musty, like a cave which the sea entered regularly.’
    • ‘The basement smelled musty, like rusted tools and damp cellar water.’
    • ‘The inside of the cabin was rather gloomy and had a musty, old mouldy smell about it.’
    • ‘The place smelled musty and damp, even though it was at the end of a hot, dusty canyon.’
    • ‘He reached the bottom and choked on the dank musty smell that greeted him.’
    • ‘The damp musty smell in the air suggested we were still in the base, though it seemed impossible for most of it was destroyed.’
    • ‘The bungalow was damp with a musty smell but Rod didn't care.’
    • ‘Hurrying into the heart of the library, the musty smell of old ink and rotting paper curled around her nostrils.’
    mouldy, stale, fusty, damp, dank, mildewed, mildewy, decayed, smelly, stuffy, airless, unventilated
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Having a stale taste.
      ‘the beer tasted sour, thin, and musty’
      • ‘The scent and taste of mace is often described as peppery or musty with an almost mentholated note.’
      • ‘He wiped the sleep from his eyes and swallowed, trying to clear the musty taste from his mouth.’
      • ‘The air tasted musty and stale so I hooked the corner of the canvas cover up so the air could flow through.’
      • ‘Furthermore, discerning customers would notice the taste, which is known to be uniquely earthy, musty and almost syrupy.’
    2. 1.2Lacking freshness or vitality; old-fashioned.
      ‘the musty formalities of the occasion’
      • ‘The argument did not gain stature from its antiquity; that only made it musty and tired.’


Early 16th century: perhaps an alteration of moisty moist, influenced by must.