Alternative formsEdit


From c.1400, from Middle English sent (noun) and senten (verb), from Old French sentir (to feel, perceive, smell), from Old French sentire "to feel, perceive, sense", from Latin sentīre, present active infinitive of sentiō. Ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *sent- (to feel), and thus related to Dutch zin (sense, meaning), German Sinn (sense), Low German Sinn (sense), Luxembourgish Sënn (sense, perception), Saterland Frisian Sin (sense), West Frisian sin (sense). The -c- appeared in the 17th century, possibly by influence of ascent, descent, etc., or by influence of science.



scent (countable and uncountable, plural scents)

  1. A distinctive smell.
    Synonyms: aroma, bouquet, fragrance, nosegay, odor, perfume, redolence, smell
    the scent of flowers / of a skunk
    to give off / release / exude a scent
    to breathe in / inhale a scent
  2. A smell left by an animal that may be used for tracing.
    The dogs picked up / caught the scent but then quickly lost it.
  3. The sense of smell.
    Synonym: olfaction
    I believe the bloodhound has the best scent of all dogs.
  4. (chiefly uncountable) A substance (usually liquid) created to provide a pleasant smell.
    Synonyms: aftershave, cologne, eau de toilette, perfume, toilet water
    a scent shop
    a scent bazaar
  5. (figuratively) Any trail or trace that can be followed to find something or someone, such as the paper left behind in a paperchase.
    The minister's off-hand remark put journalists on the scent of a cover-up.
    The tip put the detectives on a false / the wrong scent.
    to pick up a scent / get scent of somethingdiscover one of a series of clues in the trail of evidence
    to throw / put someone off the scentdistract them from following the trail of evidence
  6. (obsolete) Sense, perception.

Usage notesEdit

  • Although historically the term was applied indifferently to odours of any kind, it is now more often used to refer to pleasant ones (like aroma and fragrance), while odour and smell are more often used for unpleasant ones.

See alsoEdit

Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


scent (third-person singular simple present scents, present participle scenting, simple past and past participle scented)

  1. (transitive) To detect the scent of; to discern by the sense of smell.
    Synonym: smell
    The hounds scented the fox in the woods.
  2. (transitive, intransitive) To inhale in order to detect the scent of (something).
    Synonyms: sniff, smell
  3. (transitive, figuratively) To have a suspicion of; to detect the possibility of (something).
    Synonyms: detect, discern, perceive, sense
    I scented trouble when I saw them running down the hill towards me.
    • 1919, Henry Blake Fuller, Bertram Cope’s Year, Chicago: R.F. Seymour, Chapter 11, p. 105,[12]
      Cope seemed to scent a challenge and accepted it.
    • 1978, Lawrence Durrell, Livia, London: Faber and Faber, Chapter 1, p. 48,[13]
      A mysterious scene to me then—yet I scented that there was something momentous about it, though I could not tell what.
  4. (transitive) To impart an odour to, to cause to have a particular smell.
    Synonym: perfume
    Scent the air with burning sage before you begin your meditation.
    • 1685, John Dryden, “The Epithalamium of Helen and Menelaus” in Sylvæ, or, The Second Part of Poetical Miscellanies, London: Jacob Tonson, p. 105,[14]
      Balm, from a Silver box distill’d around, / Shall all bedew the roots and scent the sacred ground;
    • 1796, John Gabriel Stedman, Narrative of a Five Years’ Expedition, London: J. Johnson & J. Edwards, Volume 2, Chapter 25, p. 235,[15]
      [Vanilla pods] have a fat rich aromatic taste, and most agreeable flavour; on which account they are used to scent the chocolate.
    • 1860 December – 1861 August, Charles Dickens, chapter VII, in Great Expectations [], volume III, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published October 1861, OCLC 3359935, page 103:
      [] the air [] was scented, not disagreeably, by the chips and shavings of the long-shore boat-builders, and mast oar and block makers.
    • 1999, Ahdaf Soueif, The Map of Love, London: Bloomsbury, Chapter 18, p. 300,[16]
      You adorn yourself and scent yourself and sit with him in a comfortable way—
  5. (intransitive, obsolete) To have a smell; (figuratively) to give an impression (of something).
    Synonym: smell
  6. To hunt animals by means of the sense of smell.

Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.