Definition of miasma in US English:



  • 1A highly unpleasant or unhealthy smell or vapor.

    ‘a miasma of stale alcohol hung around him like marsh gas’
    • ‘Before Pasteur, dreadful smells and miasmas ruled the roost, the only accepted causes of illness, while after Pasteur, disease was all down to germs.’
    • ‘Karten and Keith emerged through the balcony door, just behind him, along with a miasma of strong Sullaneen tobacco.’
    • ‘Today's the day for refuse collection where I live, and the miasma of smells and stench from the bins was like wading through a marsh this morning.’
    • ‘Closer, and I caught the sharp smell hanging over the general miasma: the stink of fresh urine.’
    • ‘Each new smell cue would simply add to the miasma of conflicting odours, and people were often seen fleeing the theatre, holding their noses.’
    stink, reek, stench, smell, odour, malodour
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    1. 1.1 An oppressive or unpleasant atmosphere which surrounds or emanates from something.
      ‘there was a miasma of despair over this place’
      • ‘All of them sensed the palpable miasma of evil which clung to its tunnels, though some were more sensitive to it than others.’
      • ‘But his later years have been a miasma of money troubles, marital strife and ill health.’
      • ‘Lyrically and musically, the album's tone of entropy does more to underscore the miasma of dread most people feel under the current political conditions than it does to rebel significantly against it.’
      • ‘Instead it appeared, at least to some Americans, as if the promise of the United Nations had collapsed in a miasma of bureaucratic inertia and rhetorical posturing.’
      • ‘As I sank into a miasma of guilt, I began to wrestle with the question: Why?’
      • ‘The Indian issue, Jenkins writes, led him into ‘a miasma of impotent isolation.’’
      • ‘Although the effectiveness of his campaign remains to be seen, it has shone like a beacon of virtue through the miasma of greed that characterizes corrupt politicians and state officials.’
      • ‘But in the last series, it was enveloped in a miasma of nastiness.’
      • ‘A miasma of middle class angst simultaneously stings granny and granddaughter into revenge against Annie at the same time it is paralysing their victim.’
      • ‘In addition, the agricultural protectionism of the European Union, ossified in the economic miasma of the Common Agricultural Policy, needs to be scrapped.’
      • ‘I mean, in the end, remedies will adapt and be found for that purpose, and you seem to create a miasma of difficulty which it is the business of courts to cure if there is a constitutional or statutory offence.’
      • ‘Inside the doors of the Special Division building they were marched straight down a flight of stairs into a miasma of human misery.’
      • ‘But to be honest those games are mostly a miasma of hazy impressions.’
      • ‘The trouble is, the whole issue is shrouded in a miasma of mistrust.’
      • ‘Everything else is a miasma of vague promises and guarantees.’
      • ‘They exploit the exigencies of war to sound like clergymen, seizing religious language to veil partisan public policies in a miasma of ersatz godliness.’
      • ‘The retail plant industry is too large and lucrative to allow us plantspeople to languish in a miasma of monochrome, although of course it is perfectly possible to have a simply wonderful garden just by using all-green plants.’
      • ‘The palace in the end became a miasma of schemes, intrigues, paranoia and backstabbing.’
      • ‘The world kept breaking up into a miasma of red dots and smeared vision.’
      • ‘The MSM is a miasma of irresponsible, ideological improvisations, especially these days.’


Mid 17th century: from Greek, literally ‘defilement’, from miainein ‘pollute’.