Definition of scent in English:



  • 1A distinctive smell, especially one that is pleasant.

    ‘the scent of freshly cut hay’
    • ‘His Tiny Tots dahlias are unique in that they give off a pleasant scent, something dahlias just don't do.’
    • ‘He can smell the spicy scent of her damp, freshly shampooed hair.’
    • ‘Life at the ranch house starts early with the insistent chatter of birds and the scent of freshly ground Kenyan coffee.’
    • ‘In return for a donation, visitors had the chance to enjoy the colourful sights and fragrant scents of lovingly tended boarders, and pick up a few tips on garden design.’
    • ‘On a fine day the colours and scent from the lavender and herb beds that extend over 12 acres would make for a pleasant stroll.’
    • ‘Wherever you go in this island city, the French influence is as strong as the scent of freshly baked baguettes.’
    • ‘Orange or lemon rinds provide a pleasant scent to the kitchen.’
    • ‘The rustle of grain was gone, replaced by the earthy scent of a freshly harvested field.’
    • ‘In a small nonstick skillet, toast the cumin at medium heat until it releases its scent, about 20 seconds.’
    • ‘Rex woke up to the strong aroma of coffee and smelled the sweet scent of fried bacon and eggs.’
    • ‘The green salad bordered on a non-event thanks to the iceberg lettuce, but the orange-tinged dressing had a nice sesame scent to it.’
    • ‘It's a land of fishermen and farmers where you can smell fresh cut hay and the scent of the sea in a single step.’
    • ‘Analysis of its volatile components has identified the same molecules that give many familiar objects their distinctive scents.’
    • ‘As a fragrance evaporates, you smell scents in three stages, starting with the top notes and ending with the bottom notes.’
    • ‘It's dotted with linden trees that must have provided a pleasant scent when in bloom a few weeks ago.’
    • ‘This is heavily perfumed with fruit that bursts out of the glass, filling the room with scents of freshly cut apple, pear and peach.’
    • ‘People enjoyed them because of the scents and distinctive flavors.’
    • ‘I like jasmine tea's refreshing scent a lot, which I adore in the form of gelatin dessert, too.’
    • ‘I could smell him, the distinct scent of him that was a mix of cologne and hair wax and his soap.’
    • ‘I could smell the distinct scent of strawberry shampoo on her hair.’
    smell, fragrance, aroma, perfume, redolence, savour, odour, whiff
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    1. 1.1mass noun Pleasant-smelling liquid worn on the skin; perfume.
      ‘she sprayed scent over her body’
      • ‘L' Eau D' Issey is the ultimate feminine scent, blending floral fragrances with fresh water.’
      • ‘Inside was a simple, dark blue, package containing a bottle of scent personally made for me by perfumers in London.’
      • ‘Alternatively, just spray your favourite scent around the room (but be sparing).’
      • ‘At the Caron store in Paris, phials of its scent are decanted from impressive fragrance fountains.’
      • ‘I sprayed my favourite scent on my neck, checked my face in the mirror and brushed out my hair, then picked up my bag.’
      • ‘Charlize will appear in adverts starting next month - just when another Academy Awards queen is set to launch her own ads for a rival French scent.’
      • ‘How long before politicians come out with their own clothes line and perfume scent?’
      • ‘She sprayed her neck a bit of citric scent and took a peppermint tablet.’
      • ‘For the final touch, I sprayed my signature scent, Moonlight Path, around the room, and walked through it.’
      • ‘Work has begun with a leading confectionery company on an equally intriguing chocolate perfume scent, but the project is still at an early stage.’
      • ‘A second scent is already in development, and a cologne for men is planned to follow.’
      • ‘It's important to know that every scent or cologne smells different on every person.’
      • ‘The smell of cheap scent and rancid after-shave was all pervading.’
      • ‘I wish Mark would wear the scent I bought him for Christmas, Gina thought.’
      • ‘The new men's scent from Comme des Garçons is God's gift to perfume.’
      • ‘Victoria Beckham's favourite designer, Romeo Gigli, also launches his latest concoction, a spicy floral scent, this summer.’
      perfume, fragrance, toilet water, lavender water, cologne
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  • 2A trail indicated by the characteristic smell of an animal and perceptible to hounds or other animals.

    ‘the hound followed the scent’
    • ‘Train your dog to locate objects by following scents on a trail for fun or sport.’
    • ‘Both groups took longer to pass through the tunnel when predator scent was present than when it was absent.’
    • ‘If a criminal runs away I can't always see where he has gone, but Otto doesn't look for them, he smells their scent and can track them.’
    • ‘Every blade of grass and bush had the scents of other animals that had encountered it.’
    • ‘One key characteristic of red herrings, apart from their colour, was their strong smell, so much so that one use for them on occasion was to train hounds to follow a scent.’
    • ‘A fox was caught on Birk Fell, near Tilberthwaite, and a second got away after the pack met a group of walkers and the hounds lost the scent.’
    • ‘No arrests were made, but one allegation was made to police that an anti-hunt follower sprayed a hound in the face to put it off the scent.’
    • ‘In the Amazon, a Waorani hunter detects the scent of animal urine at forty paces and identifies the species that deposited it.’
    • ‘Later this year the NFH intend to experiment with trail hunting, in which a cloth soaked in a fox's urine is dragged across the countryside to give the hounds a scent to follow.’
    • ‘Quickly the pack of hounds caught a scent, and hurried to the chase, baying so loudly that the rocks and cliffs rang.’
    • ‘Before the runner sets off, he is put in an enclosed space with the hounds that then track his scent.’
    • ‘One possible tactic could involve shooting a fox before the hunt sets out and dragging its corpse round the countryside for hounds to follow the scent.’
    • ‘It was just 20 minutes into the hunt when the hounds got their first scent.’
    • ‘As the hounds picked up their scent, the howls became snarls.’
    • ‘Later, two other dogs were run across the suspected site and they too indicated a scent.’
    • ‘Then the pack of hounds chases the scent while followed by mounted riders.’
    • ‘In a drag hunt, a field master leads a team on horseback, guided by foxhounds on the trail of an animal scent.’
    • ‘Males, running to mark over puppies' bathrooming spots, are hiding the scent of the puppies from the grizzly.’
    • ‘Hounds follow the scent of a fox which may be quite some distance away.’
    • ‘Airizelda walked along smelling the air every so often, searching for the scent of moose.’
    spoor, trail, track
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    1. 2.1 A trail of evidence or other signs assisting someone in a search or investigation.
      ‘once their interest is aroused they follow the scent with sleuth-like pertinacity’
      • ‘A lack of bullets initially put investigators off the scent of gunpowder.’
      • ‘His point is laudable, but will likely prove ineffective once US news shows pick up the scent.’
      • ‘Marco, picking up the scent, tries to investigate, following Shaw around the country.’
      • ‘It's possible it has been deliberately left there by the worm's author as a red herring to lead investigators off the scent.’
  • 3archaic mass noun The faculty or sense of smell.

    ‘the dog, having the help of scent as well as of sight’
    • ‘If scent is the sense physically located closest to memory in the brain, then surely the synapses that channel sound tickle the trigger of imagination.’


[with object]
  • 1usually be scented withImpart a pleasant scent to.

    ‘a glass of tea scented with a local herb’
    • ‘Laurel's hand was scented with a heavenly mixture of jasmine and roses that William would surely never forget.’
    • ‘The sensuous milk bath is scented with fresh rose petals, kaffir lime and stimulating essential oils.’
    • ‘Homemade soaps are pleasant and offer therapeutic effects when scented with essential oils.’
    • ‘They brought soap and scented the bathwater with fragrant oils.’
    • ‘I sat there on a wooden bench for a mug of special scented tea made from fresh tealeaves.’
    • ‘The sauce was not too meaty, but loose and liquidy, scented with fresh herbs and wine.’
    • ‘Look for products scented with essential plant oils, such as lemon, verbena, or lavender.’
    • ‘She exhaled in a great rush, rippling the water's surface, and reached for the soaps and scented oils her maids had left her.’
    • ‘The water was just the right temperature and it was scented with lavender perfume and honey-suckle.’
    • ‘An eighteenth-century version of this bun was scented with caraway, a habit that seemed to slip away over the next 100 years or so.’
    • ‘Simple and sophisticated, its tight, buttery crumb is scented with kirsch and shot through with soft summer berries.’
    • ‘These are the tart, cooling flavours you expect further east, yet a Keralan fish stew may be scented with them all.’
    • ‘An assembly of fresh wild mushrooms was heavily scented with dried ceps, and the cheese had been employed with restraint.’
    • ‘With ingredients such as ginseng and tea these pleasantly scented products do the job very nicely.’
    • ‘She remembered it as a place that was scented with myrrh and strewn with silks.’
    • ‘Commercial fabric softeners are heavily scented with artificial fragrances that leave irritating residues on fabrics.’
    • ‘The air was fresh, yet warm for the season of the year and scented with leaves, earth and cool water falling down in glimmering cascades.’
    • ‘It comes with a rice-and-red-bean salad and as well as a green salad scented with spices.’
    • ‘They are scented with different essences, and may be shaped as fruits or flowers, or simply made in little drop shapes.’
    • ‘The café is smart, and the shops sells every item which can conceivably be lavender scented - from soaps and candles to incense burners and perfumes.’
    perfumed, fragranced, perfumy
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  • 2Discern by the sense of smell.

    ‘a shark can scent blood from well over half a kilometre away’
    • ‘She was indeed already circling them, like a shark scenting spilled blood.’
    • ‘Just as I was trying to scent her on the breeze, I heard her call from the top branches of an oak tree.’
    • ‘They have ‘newcomer’ written all over them, and the con-artists and pick-pockets gravitate towards them like jackals scenting carrion.’
    • ‘The urchin got up a second time with the murderous expression of a dog scenting blood.’
    • ‘‘Like a shark scenting a drop of blood in a vast expanse of ocean, he sniffed out my vulnerability the first time he laid eyes on me,’ she writes in her new book.’
    • ‘She was about to begin to feed on the owls kill when she scented the smell of a felida, finally noticing a shadowed form at the back of the cave.’
    • ‘It was finally lunch period, Mary walks to the line at the Café and later scents a familiar smell.’
    smell, detect the smell of, pick up the smell of, get a whiff of
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    1. 2.1 Sense the presence, existence, or imminence of.
      ‘the Premier scented victory last night’
      • ‘As Hitler's imminent demise was scented, Stalin rose to new heights of prestige at home and abroad.’
      • ‘The words will barely have settled on the page before someone scents a mistake.’
      • ‘Some of the media drifted closer, scenting information the way sharks smell blood.’
      • ‘By the end, wickets fell at an alarming rate and it was West who scented an unlikely victory.’
      • ‘The Hammers, who had scented victory, had to withdraw their substitute striker in favour of a replacement defender in Neil Ruddock.’
      • ‘The guerilleros, scenting the victories to come, were in no mood to be forgiving.’
      • ‘When McNicholas was shown a straight red for a high shot on Cruckshank, Leigh scented victory.’
      • ‘And now Hollywood's literary agents are moving in, scenting huge profits from book and film rights.’
      • ‘Scenting an issue which could have widespread appeal, they have been running a national campaign to make phone company applications go through the full planning process.’
      • ‘Although there have been 12 letters of objection to the plan, the two community councils in the area are scenting opportunity.’
      • ‘It's Patrician's first season in the U - 16 section and midfield stroller Jason is already scenting a Championship triumph at the first attempt.’
      • ‘Scepticism failed to save her from scenting danger in the ardent courtship of a rich young Philadelphian.’
      • ‘Chants and songs echoed around the pub as fans scented victory.’
      • ‘There was no shortage of money, as Penny, scenting change in the air, held yet another fundraiser.’
      sense, become aware of, become conscious of, detect, discern, perceive, recognize, get wind of, sniff out, nose out
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    2. 2.2 Sniff (the air) for a scent.
      ‘the bull advanced, scenting the breeze at every step’
      • ‘The other lifted his head as if scenting the air and very briefly closed his eyes.’
      • ‘I trudged on, scenting the air every so often to see if anyone was around me and also keeping track of where the border patrollers were.’
      • ‘‘Just a sec,’ I said, transforming again into my wolf form and scenting the air.’
      • ‘It was Tyrannix, scenting the air and swiveling his head in all directions.’
      • ‘When we were seated he looked around as if scenting the air, and said, ‘This is very sixties.’’
      smell, test the smell of, nose at
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  • on the scent

    • In possession of a useful clue in a search or investigation.

      ‘he might be on the scent of something’
      • ‘But it takes more than that to deter a tabloid hound on the scent of fast-breaking international news.’
      • ‘He claims to offer a service to shield celebrities from the baying media pack on the scent of scandal.’
      • ‘Within the French secret service, there were a few outright untrustworthy, such as one lieutenant whose blather on a cafe terrace put the Germans on the scent of these listening officers.’
      • ‘They think that this provides an avenue to destroy her, and they are like hounds on the scent.’
      • ‘He is the eco-friendly hound who is on the scent of environmental crime.’
      • ‘They also created a ‘revolving door’ syndrome in the sector, with sought-after staff galloping from one company to the next, on the scent of yet another lucrative pay rise.’
      • ‘As it was, Glavely's attitude showed he knew I was on the scent of something.’
      • ‘For some time now, the unit has been on the scent of something that's been, well, dogging the world of consulting.’
      • ‘While he still enjoyed his work when he was on the scent, he clearly felt much of the joy and challenge of his cases was gone.’
  • put (or throw) someone off the scent

    • Mislead someone in the course of a search or investigation.

      ‘it was a ploy to put us off the scent’
      • ‘That other stuff was just to throw you off the scent while I nicked your MP3 player.’
      • ‘Detectives believe the killer of a Yorkshire teenager sent text messages from her phone to throw them off the scent.’
      • ‘We ‘threw her off the scent’ by planting a series of stories that had nothing to do with our strongest messages, but kept her guessing.’
      • ‘Their understated stance sometimes throws you off the scent.’
      • ‘I'm probably getting paranoid, but are BBC employees trying to throw us off the scent by posting red herrings on these sorts of boards?’
      • ‘The tale told to Mr Shafi that it was in the post was a deliberate ruse designed to throw him off the scent of that return.’
      • ‘Either Joss is trying to throw us off the scent… or he is in denial.’
      • ‘It is a brilliant way to throw us off the scent, which just reminds us all how vigilant we must be to stopping these evil minds.’
      • ‘It is his job to throw her off the scent by switching on the charm.’
      • ‘This was important to Kate; she had to try and throw Emily off the scent.’


Late Middle English (denoting the sense of smell): from Old French sentir ‘perceive, smell’, from Latin sentire. The addition of -c- (in the 17th century) is unexplained.