Definition of perfume in US English:



  • 1A fragrant liquid typically made from essential oils extracted from flowers and spices, used to impart a pleasant smell to one's body or clothes.

    ‘I caught a whiff of her fresh lemony perfume’
    ‘musk-based perfumes’
    • ‘A beautiful town in the foothills of the Alps, it is the centre of the French perfume industry with the countryside filled with roses, jasmine, bitter orange blossom and other flowers from which the perfumes are distilled.’
    • ‘"I know, " I said, stopping at the perfume counter.’
    • ‘Maids with flowers pranced down the aisle and their perfume wafted through the air.’
    • ‘He inhaled her sweet perfume as he pulled her closer.’
    • ‘My mother's car always smelled like cheap perfume and old food.’
    • ‘Her smell of talcum powder and musky floral perfume was now mixed in with the lemony stench of hospitals.’
    • ‘And she has worked as a professional nose for the perfume industry.’
    • ‘Not only that, she used the starkly simple laboratory bottle for selling the new perfume.’
    • ‘When I woke up, I smelled this sweet familiar vanilla perfume.’
    • ‘I smiled and put on my boots, and sprayed some perfume on.’
    • ‘I quickly ran to my room and changed my clothes and sprayed some perfume.’
    • ‘He took the trouble to give her something more personal than the usual flowers, perfumes or jewelry.’
    • ‘There are also recipes for nightime face elixirs, solid and liquid perfumes, and moisturizing body oils.’
    • ‘Having to go past the perfume counter in the department store will also become more dangerous.’
    • ‘What makes essential oils different from the synthetic perfumes sold in most mass-market retail outlets?’
    • ‘Men were actually drooling, as her lavender perfume seemed to dance around them.’
    • ‘She remembered the jasmine perfume that her mother liked.’
    • ‘Here are the best in women's perfume, for any occasion and personality.’
    • ‘She was wearing some designer perfume so she literally smelled expensive.’
    • ‘She reached up to the second highest shelf and took down the perfume bottle.’
    scent, fragrance, eau de toilette, toilet water, eau de cologne, cologne, spray, aftershave
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A pleasant smell.
      ‘the heady perfume of lilacs’
      • ‘Wildflowers spread their sweet heady perfume along the gentle breezes and bees hum musically to themselves as they cheerily collect flower pollen.’
      • ‘In the run-up to Christmas Eve, give them pride of place in the warmth of the living room, where they will suffuse the air with a heady, sweet perfume.’
      • ‘The bees have gone back to their hives, and the evening air wears a sweet perfume.’
      • ‘Before breakfast, she would wander about the gardens until her clothes were filled with all the fragrant perfumes of the flowers.’
      • ‘The perfume of its tiny lilac flower heads will scent a room in summer months.’
      • ‘It is this fundamentally hybrid nature and not the heady perfume of ink emanating from its pages that intoxicates the reader to this day.’
      • ‘The rosebuds known as taifi to the locals are plucked when they have just opened up and before the sun's rays diminish the oils, which contain the essence of their perfume.’
      • ‘The fragrance of over a hundred bouquets - domestic and international - provided the sweetest perfume.’
      • ‘The grapes are a deep yellow and the resulting wine is high in colour, alcohol, and a very particular perfume redolent of apricots, peaches, and blossom.’
      • ‘The air is heavy, laden with the perfume of a million flowers that once bloomed here.’
      • ‘In the ruin they explore various rooms redolent of perfume said to remain from the essences of flowers that were mixed into its mortar.’
      • ‘With my nose full of cherry plum perfume and ears full of bird songs, I'm left to wonder only why this beauty is so rare.’
      • ‘Walk by a pile of good melons and the air should be full of heady perfume without rotting or fermented undertones.’
      smell, odour, aroma, scent, fragrance, bouquet, redolence
      View synonyms


[with object]
  • 1Impart a pleasant smell to.

    ‘just one bloom of jasmine has the power to perfume a whole room’
    • ‘Now that the eating and drinking of plants had commenced, at some point humankind sought to keep these scents with them and perfume their bodies.’
    • ‘The skill of the confectioner would be required to preserve flowers - such as roses - considered to have medicinal virtues; the resulting confection would have the pleasant side effect of perfuming the breath when eaten.’
    • ‘To perfume your sheets and make them a fragrant delight to slide between, just add 5 drops of lavender oil to the softener compartment of your washing machine.’
    • ‘We lived in a castaway world of the senses, where skin was burned and sun tan oils perfumed us as we slept on sandy sheets.’
    • ‘As an added bonus, it will perfume any room you leave it in with a mildly heady scent.’
    • ‘This picture may not seem like much…… but to me it represents one of the greatest smells that's ever perfumed my kitchen.’
    • ‘I took my dad along as my dining companion to thank him for perfuming my childhood with the scent of jarred kimchi.’
    • ‘A grain of musk perfumes a room for years, and a single grain of indigo colors a ton of water.’
    • ‘Fragrant flowers in a single pot can perfume a whole room.’
    • ‘If you're lucky, you arrive at teatime, when the scent of steeping Earl Grey perfumes the parlor.’
    • ‘Oriental hybrids make a grand late entrance, in August; their large flowers perfume the whole garden.’
    • ‘It was something she was saving for her wedding day, originally meant to perfume her bed and her room, but now, it would serve a much more important purpose.’
    • ‘It makes a superb cut flower - five stalks will perfume a room for a week.’
    • ‘The building was perfumed with a sweet aroma that would have soothed the average visitor.’
    • ‘The alley is perfumed with the smell of excellent Thai cooking that draws you inside, up an uneven stairway to the restaurant.’
    • ‘Unabashedly aromatic with garlic, olive oil, rosemary, and sage, it perfumes the entire kitchen with a warm and welcome mid-winter rush of fresh herbs.’
    • ‘Its been said that the rich fragrance of a single blossom can perfume an entire room.’
    • ‘Far better to cut a few stems, take them inside and pop them into a simple vase, where they will instantly perfume an entire room for days, bringing with them the promise that spring is just around the corner.’
    • ‘These rebloomers are wonderful in floral bouquets where they perfume an entire room.’
    • ‘The accompanying garlic was roasted to a soft, squidgy, delicate, perfection and I thanked my lucky stars that my boyfriend is French and would enjoy kissing me just as much once my breath had been perfumed by the scent of a stinking rose.’
    1. 1.1usually be perfumed Impregnate (something) with perfume or a sweet-smelling ingredient.
      ‘the cream is perfumed with rosemary and iris extracts’
      • ‘Fruit, vegetables, ice and feathers are all handy props; a bath or shower with a richly perfumed soap won't be forgotten; hot candle wax and permanent dye are a no no.’
      • ‘This year they have sprinkled their menu with tastes from China, so their cream of leek soup is now perfumed with green tea and the fillet of snapper is served with Szechuan spice sauce.’
      • ‘Soap in excess and bubble baths excessively dry the skin, and many perfumed and ‘medicated’ products applied to the skin will cause irritation.’
      • ‘The last I got was so heavily perfumed I couldn't stand to have it in my print developer.’
      • ‘The yogurt sorbet was creamy and luscious, the rosemary gelée subtle and only slightly perfumed with rosemary.’
      • ‘The air was heavily perfumed with curry powder and other spices Rose couldn't name.’
      • ‘Lemon-grass and perfumed kaffir lime leaves sneak into a gentle cream that moistens seared scallops and nicely grilled shrimp, for instance.’
      • ‘Everywhere, everything is brighter, louder, more heavily perfumed.’
      • ‘Dried flowers are stuffed into candles of different shapes which have been perfumed using aroma oils of tube rose, jasmine and lavender.’
      • ‘The soap can be tinted or perfumed, if desired, with additives available from the soapmaking section of craft stores.’
      • ‘This haven of cool tiled rooms and gently perfumed air sits apart from the main body of the hotel, but is connected by a subterranean corridor.’
      • ‘The room was lit almost completely by soft candlelight, and the air was perfumed by sweet-smelling incense, and men smoking pipes filled with herbal concoctions.’
      • ‘If you have sensitive skin, use hypoallergenic soaps, and avoid perfumed, antibacterial and deodorant soaps, which can be irritating.’
      • ‘A whisper of herbs - rosemary and tarragon - perfume this wine, along with the flavor of melons.’
      • ‘The evening air was perfumed with the soft scent of fresh flowers.’
      • ‘The best peaches have a sweet, perfumed aroma if you sniff the stem end.’
      • ‘The still air is perfumed with the tantalising smell of golden roast chicken baking on a spit - it is a scene from 20 or, then again, maybe 30 years ago.’
      • ‘Flowers of all three will catch the moonlight and perfume the air around you.’
      • ‘He loves Corsica which is a long block of mountains from one end of the island to the other and where the air is perfumed with the scent of pines and wild cyclamen.’
      • ‘I recognized the faint perfumed smell of my master and smiled.’
      sweet-smelling, sweet-scented, scented, fragrant, aromatic, sweet
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Apply perfume to (someone or something)
      ‘her hair was oiled and perfumed’
      • ‘A highlight of the display is a sandalwood comb with two hidden chambers, one filled with oil, the other with ‘ittar’ that oils and perfumes the hair as it is combed.’
      • ‘One hour later she had been bathed, perfumed, oiled, and dressed to perfection.’


Mid 16th century (originally denoting pleasant-smelling smoke from a burning substance, especially one used in fumigation): from French parfum (noun), parfumer (verb), from obsolete Italian parfumare, literally ‘to smoke through’.