Etymology
Advertisement
smell (v.)
late 12c., "emit or perceive an odor," not found in Old English, perhaps cognate with Middle Dutch smolen, Low German smelen "to smolder" (see smolder). However, OED says "no doubt of Old English origin, but not recorded, and not represented in any of the cognate languages." Related: Smelled or smelt; smelling.

Smelling salts (1840), used to revive the woozy, typically were a scented preparation of carbonate of ammonia. Smell-feast (n.) "one who finds and frequents good tables, one who scents out where free food is to be had" is from 1510s ("very common" c. 1540-1700, OED). Smell-smock "licentious man" was in use c. 1550-c. 1900. To smell a rat "be suspicious" is from 1540s.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
smell (n.)
"odor, aroma, stench," late 12c.; "faculty of perceiving by the nose," c. 1200; see smell (v.). Ousted Old English stenc (see stench) in most senses.
Related entries & more 
smelly (adj.)
1854, from smell (n.) + -y (2). Related: Smelliness.
Related entries & more 
smelt (n.)
Old English smelt "sardine, small salmon-like sea fish," cognate with Dutch smelt "sand eel," Danish smelt (c. 1600). OED notes that it has a peculiar odor (but doesn't suggest a connection with smell); Klein suggests a connection with the way the fish melts in one's mouth. Century Dictionary speculates it means "smooth" and compares Old English smeolt, smylt "serene, smooth." Watkins says from PIE root *mel- (1) "soft."
Related entries & more 
olfaction (n.)

"sense of smell, faculty of smelling," 1846, noun of action from Latin olfactus, past participle of olfacere "to smell, get the smell of" (transitive), from olere "to emit a smell" (see odor) + facere "to make" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
odorous (adj.)

"fragrant, emitting a smell or scent," early 15c., from Medieval Latin odorosus, from Latin odorus "having a smell," from odor "a smell, a scent" (see odor). Related: Odorously; odorousness.

Related entries & more 
olfactory (adj.)

"making or causing to smell; having the sense of smell," 1650s, from Latin olfactorius, from olfact-, past-participle stem of olfacere "to get the smell of, sniff," from olere "emit a smell, give off a smell of" (see odor) + facere "to make" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").

Related entries & more 
fetor (n.)
"offensive smell," mid-15c., from Latin fetor, foetor "stink, stench, bad smell," from fetere "have a bad smell" (see fetid).
Related entries & more 
stench (n.)
Old English stenc "a smell, odor, scent, fragrance" (either pleasant or unpleasant), from Proto-Germanic *stankwiz (source also of Old Saxon stanc, Old High German stanch, German stank). Related to stincan "emit a smell" (see stink (v.)) as drench is to drink. It tended toward "bad smell" in Old English (as a verb, only with this sense), and the notion of "evil smell" has predominated since c. 1200.
Related entries & more 
anosmia (n.)

"loss of sense of smell," 1811, Modern Latin, from Greek an- "not, without" (see an- (1)) + osmē "smell" (Doric odmē), from *odsme, from PIE root *hed- "to smell" (see odor) + abstract noun ending -ia.

Related entries & more