Definition of scent in English:

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Pronunciation: /sent/


1A distinctive smell, especially one that is pleasant: the scent of freshly cut hay
More example sentences
  • People enjoyed them because of the scents and distinctive flavors.
  • This is heavily perfumed with fruit that bursts out of the glass, filling the room with scents of freshly cut apple, pear and peach.
  • It's dotted with linden trees that must have provided a pleasant scent when in bloom a few weeks ago.
1.1Pleasant-smelling liquid worn on the skin; perfume: she sprayed scent over her body
More example sentences
  • Work has begun with a leading confectionery company on an equally intriguing chocolate perfume scent, but the project is still at an early stage.
  • How long before politicians come out with their own clothes line and perfume scent?
  • The new men's scent from Comme des Garçons is God's gift to perfume.
2A trail indicated by the characteristic smell of an animal and perceptible to hounds or other animals: the hound followed the scent
More example sentences
  • Later this year the NFH intend to experiment with trail hunting, in which a cloth soaked in a fox's urine is dragged across the countryside to give the hounds a scent to follow.
  • One possible tactic could involve shooting a fox before the hunt sets out and dragging its corpse round the countryside for hounds to follow the scent.
  • Hounds follow the scent of a fox which may be quite some distance away.
spoor, trail, track;
Hunting  foil, wind
2.1A trail of evidence or other signs assisting someone in a search or investigation: once their interest is aroused, they follow the scent with sleuthlike pertinacity
More example sentences
  • Marco, picking up the scent, tries to investigate, following Shaw around the country.
  • It's possible it has been deliberately left there by the worm's author as a red herring to lead investigators off the scent.
  • A lack of bullets initially put investigators off the scent of gunpowder.
3 archaic The faculty or sense of smell.
Example sentences
  • If scent is the sense physically located closest to memory in the brain, then surely the synapses that channel sound tickle the trigger of imagination.


[with object]
1 (usually be scented with) Impart a pleasant scent to: a glass of tea scented with lemon balm
More example sentences
  • Commercial fabric softeners are heavily scented with artificial fragrances that leave irritating residues on fabrics.
  • They brought soap and scented the bathwater with fragrant oils.
  • The water was just the right temperature and it was scented with lavender perfume and honey-suckle.
2Discern by the sense of smell: a shark can scent blood from well over half a mile away
More example sentences
  • ‘Like a shark scenting a drop of blood in a vast expanse of ocean, he sniffed out my vulnerability the first time he laid eyes on me,’ she writes in her new book.
  • She was indeed already circling them, like a shark scenting spilled blood.
  • It was finally lunch period, Mary walks to the line at the Café and later scents a familiar smell.
smell, detect the smell of, get a whiff of
2.1Sense the presence, existence, or imminence of: a commander who scented victory
More example sentences
  • The Hammers, who had scented victory, had to withdraw their substitute striker in favour of a replacement defender in Neil Ruddock.
  • Chants and songs echoed around the pub as fans scented victory.
  • When McNicholas was shown a straight red for a high shot on Cruckshank, Leigh scented victory.
sense, become aware of, detect, discern, perceive, recognize, get wind of
2.2Sniff (the air) for a scent: the bull advanced, scenting the breeze at every step
More example sentences
  • When we were seated he looked around as if scenting the air, and said, ‘This is very sixties.’
  • ‘Just a sec,’ I said, transforming again into my wolf form and scenting the air.
  • I trudged on, scenting the air every so often to see if anyone was around me and also keeping track of where the border patrollers were.



on the scent

In possession of a useful clue in a search or investigation; following a trail that will likely lead to the discovery or acquisition of something.
Example sentences
  • Within the French secret service, there were a few outright untrustworthy, such as one lieutenant whose blather on a cafe terrace put the Germans on the scent of these listening officers.
  • He is the eco-friendly hound who is on the scent of environmental crime.
  • They think that this provides an avenue to destroy her, and they are like hounds on the scent.

put (or throw) someone off the scent

Mislead someone in the course of a search or investigation.
Example sentences
  • Either Joss is trying to throw us off the scent… or he is in denial.
  • I'm probably getting paranoid, but are BBC employees trying to throw us off the scent by posting red herrings on these sorts of boards?
  • It is a brilliant way to throw us off the scent, which just reminds us all how vigilant we must be to stopping these evil minds.



Pronunciation: /ˈsentləs/
Example sentences
  • In spring you see clematis montana rubens everywhere, sugary pink, scentless and often clashing with equally ubiquitous but bright chrome yellow Forsythia.
  • When meditating, it seems best for most people to be in a dark room lit by scentless candles while listening to wordless soundscape music.
  • Four weeks later, subjects with the scentless patch had lost an average of only 2.4 pounds, while those sniffing vanilla lost an average of four pounds.


Late Middle English (denoting the sense of smell): from Old French sentir 'perceive, smell', from Latin sentire. The addition of -c- (in the 17th century) is unexplained.

  • Before it was perfume, scent was a hunting term for a hound's sense of smell. From there it became an odour picked up by a hound, and then in the 15th century a pleasant smell. The word came into medieval English through Old French from Latin sentire ‘to feel or perceive’, from which sensation (early 17th century), sense (Late Middle English), sensible (Late Middle English), sensitive (Late Middle English), sensory (mid 18th century), sentence (Middle English) originally a way of perceiving, and numerous other words without a -c- derive. People started spelling scent with a -c- in the 17th century, but no one knows exactly why.

Words that rhyme with scent

absent, accent, anent, ascent, assent, augment, bent, cement, cent, circumvent, consent, content, dent, event, extent, ferment, foment, forewent, forwent, frequent, gent, Ghent, Gwent, lament, leant, lent, meant, misrepresent, misspent, outwent, pent, percent, pigment, rent, segment, sent, spent, stent, Stoke-on-Trent, Tashkent, tent, torment, Trent, underspent, underwent, vent, went

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: scent

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