- foul-smelling or noxious, particularly of a gas or atmosphere.
1874, Marcus Clarke, chapter V, in For the Term of His Natural Life:
- It is impossible to convey, in words, any idea of the hideous phantasmagoria of shifting limbs and faces which moved through the evil-smelling twilight of this terrible prison-house. Callot might have drawn it, Dante might have suggested it, but a minute attempt to describe its horrors would but disgust. There are depths in humanity which one cannot explore, as there are mephitic caverns into which one dare not penetrate.
1996, Janette Turner Hospital, Oyster, paperback edition, Virago Press, page 3:
- More than that, perhaps the worst thing, was a sort of mephitic fog, moistureless and invisible, that came and went like an exhalation of the arid earth itself.