Definition of olfaction in English:



mass nountechnical
  • The action or capacity of smelling; the sense of smell.

    • ‘These involve genes related to reproduction, immunity and olfaction, suggesting that these physiological systems have been the focus of extensive innovation in rodents.’
    • ‘At the same time, and by the very same token, the enlarged forebrain permits increased neuronal processing of olfactory information, so the tight chemical coupling between olfaction and endocrine release is no longer so necessary.’
    • ‘Less obvious in its function in sociality than sight and hearing, olfaction still mediates relationships between subjects.’
    • ‘On this basis, Dudley inferred that ethanol could be a foraging cue to anthropoid primates and that olfaction was a key sense for detecting and navigating towards edible fruits.’
    • ‘While the mechanisms of salmonid homing are not completely understood, it is known that adult salmon continuously utilize two of their primary sensory systems, olfaction and vision, during homing.’
    • ‘The nurse shark relies on its sense of olfaction, touch and electrical reception.’
    • ‘The neuroanatomical studies indicate that NO-cGMP signaling is involved in modalities as diverse as vision, olfaction, taste, hearing, and tactile exteroception.’
    • ‘The primary function of this system is the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide; secondary functions are phonation and olfaction.’
    • ‘This relationship usually excludes any kind of reasoning; the initial effect of olfaction is the sense of being transported, especially when a long forgotten smell is freshly experienced.’
    • ‘It has established prestigious five year fellowships for outstanding laboratory investigators, particularly in hearing and olfaction.’
    • ‘This discovery suggests that this particular odorant receptor gene plays an integral role in olfaction, or sense of smell, and these results point the way to potential new methods for controlling the behavior of insects.’
    • ‘Like olfaction, the sense of taste is a chemical sense.’
    • ‘As an immunologist and neurobiologist, Mombaerts has decisively contributed to the basic mechanistic understanding of olfaction (sense of smell).’
    • ‘But many different functions converge in the head and neck area, including vision, hearing, olfaction, locomotion (head posture), and brain volume.’
    • ‘But even in humans, there is growing evidence that olfaction (mainly unconscious) is important in such functions as sexual preference, and recognition of other people.’
    • ‘Humans detect chemical substances in the environment through 2 sensory channels: olfaction and the chemical sense.’
    • ‘Megachiroptera has only one family, Pteropodidae, and megabat species are either frugivorous or nectarivorous, lacking laryngeal echolocation and relying on olfaction or vision to search food.’
    • ‘This is especially true of processes mediated by the sense of olfaction, because wind and water currents control the dispersal of odor signals and act as ancillary cues during odor plume following.’
    • ‘The males and females were presented in 1-1 Nalgene bottles with holes drilled into the covers to allow for the passage of any possible olfaction or auditory stimuli between individuals.’
    • ‘Despite the importance of olfaction in mediating food flavours and protecting the organism from leaking natural gas and other environmental hazards, its clinical assessment is not standardized in clinical practice in Australia.’


Mid 19th century: from Latin olfactus ‘a smell’ (from olere ‘to smell’ + fact- ‘made’, from the verb facere) + -ion.