Definition of odour in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈəʊdə/
(US odor)


1A distinctive smell, especially an unpleasant one: the odour of cigarette smoke
More example sentences
  • He could smell the familiar odour of rotting foliage in his nostrils.
  • During that time, the officer had smelled the odour of alcohol on the accused's breath.
  • Only when the deity smells the odour of sacrifice rightly made does he respond.
smell, scent, aroma, perfume, fragrance, bouquet, savour, nose, tang, essence, redolence;
stench, stink, reek, fetor, malodour, miasma
British informal pong, whiff, niff, hum
Scottish informal guff
North American informal funk
rare mephitis
2A lingering quality or impression attaching to something: an odour of suspicion
More example sentences
  • It's a bit of an art, because you have to ensure a silent evacuation and a quick disassociation from any lingering odours.
  • The place still had an aura, and an odor, of corrupt bureaucrats and their intellectual lackeys about it.
  • Judging by auras and odors, the woman and one man were witches.
atmosphere, air, aura, quality, spirit, flavour, savour, emanation, hint, suggestion, impression, whiff, ambience, tone
2.1 [mass noun, with adjective] The state of being held in a specified regard: a decade of bad odour between Britain and the European Community
More example sentences
  • Let us begin by asking how it came about that the tradition fell into bad odor among us.



be in good (or bad) odour with

informal Be in (or out of) favour with (someone): I want him in good odour again with his king
More example sentences
  • For a long time Lucas was in bad odour with military veterans.
  • The party does not want to be in bad odour with the United States again.
  • Well, the only real explanation is that Britain is in very bad odour with the Greeks because of the Elgin Marbles.

odour of sanctity

A sweet odour reputedly emitted by the bodies of saints at or near death.
Example sentences
  • As with the odour of sanctity, the stench of sin was believed to be particularly noticeable when the soul left the body at the time of death.
2.1A state of holiness.
Example sentences
  • His manual for organizers points out that mobilizing the religious community imparts the odor of sanctity to a left-wing social agenda.
  • Made dogma in the Christian doctrine of the ‘odor of sanctity,’ that moral interpretation of corrupt and incorruptible flesh permeated secular culture as well.


Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French, from Latin odor 'smell, scent'.

  • Today an odour (from Latin odor) tends to be an unpleasant smell, but in medieval times it was a sweet smell or perfume. This gives us the expression odour of sanctity for a state of holiness—a sweet scent was supposedly given off by the bodies of saints when they were at or near death. To be in good odour (or in bad odour) with someone is to be in (or out of) favour with them, a use that has been around since the end of the 17th century.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: odour

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