Definition of scent in English:



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

    ‘the scent of freshly cut hay’
    • ‘Orange or lemon rinds provide a pleasant scent to the kitchen.’
    • ‘I could smell the distinct scent of strawberry shampoo on her hair.’
    • ‘In a small nonstick skillet, toast the cumin at medium heat until it releases its scent, about 20 seconds.’
    • ‘As a fragrance evaporates, you smell scents in three stages, starting with the top notes and ending with the bottom notes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His Tiny Tots dahlias are unique in that they give off a pleasant scent, something dahlias just don't do.’
    • ‘I could smell him, the distinct scent of him that was a mix of cologne and hair wax and his soap.’
    • ‘I like jasmine tea's refreshing scent a lot, which I adore in the form of gelatin dessert, too.’
    • ‘He can smell the spicy scent of her damp, freshly shampooed hair.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This is heavily perfumed with fruit that bursts out of the glass, filling the room with scents of freshly cut apple, pear and peach.’
    • ‘Wherever you go in this island city, the French influence is as strong as the scent of freshly baked baguettes.’
    • ‘It's dotted with linden trees that must have provided a pleasant scent when in bloom a few weeks ago.’
    • ‘The rustle of grain was gone, replaced by the earthy scent of a freshly harvested field.’
    • ‘Rex woke up to the strong aroma of coffee and smelled the sweet scent of fried bacon and eggs.’
    • ‘Life at the ranch house starts early with the insistent chatter of birds and the scent of freshly ground Kenyan coffee.’
    • ‘Analysis of its volatile components has identified the same molecules that give many familiar objects their distinctive scents.’
    • ‘People enjoyed them because of the scents and distinctive flavors.’
    smell, fragrance, aroma, perfume, redolence, savour, odour, whiff
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    1. 1.1[mass 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.’
      • ‘The smell of cheap scent and rancid after-shave was all pervading.’
      • ‘Victoria Beckham's favourite designer, Romeo Gigli, also launches his latest concoction, a spicy floral scent, this summer.’
      • ‘A second scent is already in development, and a cologne for men is planned to follow.’
      • ‘How long before politicians come out with their own clothes line and perfume scent?’
      • ‘It's important to know that every scent or cologne smells different on every person.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At the Caron store in Paris, phials of its scent are decanted from impressive fragrance fountains.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I sprayed my favourite scent on my neck, checked my face in the mirror and brushed out my hair, then picked up my bag.’
      • ‘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).’
      • ‘The new men's scent from Comme des Garçons is God's gift to perfume.’
      • ‘Work has begun with a leading confectionery company on an equally intriguing chocolate perfume scent, but the project is still at an early stage.’
      • ‘I wish Mark would wear the scent I bought him for Christmas, Gina thought.’
  • 2A trail indicated by the characteristic smell of an animal and perceptible to hounds or other animals.

    ‘the hound followed the scent’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Quickly the pack of hounds caught a scent, and hurried to the chase, baying so loudly that the rocks and cliffs rang.’
    • ‘Hounds follow the scent of a fox which may be quite some distance away.’
    • ‘Then the pack of hounds chases the scent while followed by mounted riders.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Train your dog to locate objects by following scents on a trail for fun or sport.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Males, running to mark over puppies' bathrooming spots, are hiding the scent of the puppies from the grizzly.’
    • ‘As the hounds picked up their scent, the howls became snarls.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Before the runner sets off, he is put in an enclosed space with the hounds that then track his scent.’
    • ‘In a drag hunt, a field master leads a team on horseback, guided by foxhounds on the trail of an animal scent.’
    • ‘It was just 20 minutes into the hunt when the hounds got their first scent.’
    • ‘Every blade of grass and bush had the scents of other animals that had encountered it.’
    • ‘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, two other dogs were run across the suspected site and they too indicated a scent.’
    • ‘Airizelda walked along smelling the air every so often, searching for the scent of moose.’
    • ‘Both groups took longer to pass through the tunnel when predator scent was present than when it was absent.’
    • ‘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.’
    spoor, trail, track
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    1. 2.1A 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.’
      • ‘Marco, picking up the scent, tries to investigate, following Shaw around the country.’
      • ‘His point is laudable, but will likely prove ineffective once US news shows pick up the scent.’
      • ‘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.’


  • 1Impart a pleasant scent to.

    ‘a glass of tea scented with a local herb’
    • ‘The sensuous milk bath is scented with fresh rose petals, kaffir lime and stimulating essential oils.’
    • ‘I sat there on a wooden bench for a mug of special scented tea made from fresh tealeaves.’
    • ‘With ingredients such as ginseng and tea these pleasantly scented products do the job very nicely.’
    • ‘The sauce was not too meaty, but loose and liquidy, scented with fresh herbs and wine.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Laurel's hand was scented with a heavenly mixture of jasmine and roses that William would surely never forget.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They are scented with different essences, and may be shaped as fruits or flowers, or simply made in little drop shapes.’
    • ‘Homemade soaps are pleasant and offer therapeutic effects when scented with essential oils.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They brought soap and scented the bathwater with fragrant oils.’
    • ‘These are the tart, cooling flavours you expect further east, yet a Keralan fish stew may be scented with them all.’
    • ‘It comes with a rice-and-red-bean salad and as well as a green salad scented with spices.’
    • ‘Look for products scented with essential plant oils, such as lemon, verbena, or lavender.’
    • ‘Simple and sophisticated, its tight, buttery crumb is scented with kirsch and shot through with soft summer berries.’
    • ‘She exhaled in a great rush, rippling the water's surface, and reached for the soaps and scented oils her maids had left her.’
    • ‘An assembly of fresh wild mushrooms was heavily scented with dried ceps, and the cheese had been employed with restraint.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The water was just the right temperature and it was scented with lavender perfume and honey-suckle.’
    perfumed, fragranced, perfumy
    sweet-smelling, fragrant, aromatic
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  • 2Discern by the sense of smell.

    ‘a shark can scent blood from well over half a kilometre away’
    • ‘‘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 indeed already circling them, like a shark scenting spilled blood.’
    • ‘It was finally lunch period, Mary walks to the line at the Café and later scents a familiar smell.’
    • ‘The urchin got up a second time with the murderous expression of a dog scenting 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    smell, detect the smell of, pick up the smell of, get a whiff of
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    1. 2.1Sense the presence, existence, or imminence of.
      ‘the Premier scented victory last night’
      • ‘Chants and songs echoed around the pub as fans scented victory.’
      • ‘And now Hollywood's literary agents are moving in, scenting huge profits from book and film rights.’
      • ‘There was no shortage of money, as Penny, scenting change in the air, held yet another fundraiser.’
      • ‘Scepticism failed to save her from scenting danger in the ardent courtship of a rich young Philadelphian.’
      • ‘As Hitler's imminent demise was scented, Stalin rose to new heights of prestige at home and abroad.’
      • ‘The guerilleros, scenting the victories to come, were in no mood to be forgiving.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘By the end, wickets fell at an alarming rate and it was West who scented an unlikely victory.’
      • ‘The words will barely have settled on the page before someone scents a mistake.’
      • ‘The Hammers, who had scented victory, had to withdraw their substitute striker in favour of a replacement defender in Neil Ruddock.’
      • ‘Some of the media drifted closer, scenting information the way sharks smell blood.’
      • ‘When McNicholas was shown a straight red for a high shot on Cruckshank, Leigh scented victory.’
      • ‘Although there have been 12 letters of objection to the plan, the two community councils in the area are scenting opportunity.’
    2. 2.2Sniff (the air) for a scent.
      ‘the bull advanced, scenting the breeze at every step’
      • ‘When we were seated he looked around as if scenting the air, and said, ‘This is very sixties.’’
      • ‘The other lifted his head as if scenting the air and very briefly closed his eyes.’
      • ‘‘Just a sec,’ I said, transforming again into my wolf form and scenting the air.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was Tyrannix, scenting the air and swiveling his head in all directions.’


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.