the property of a substance that activates the sense of smell: to have an unpleasant odor.
a sensation perceived by the sense of smell; scent.
an agreeable scent; fragrance.
a disagreeable smell.
a quality or property characteristic or suggestive of something: An odor of suspicion surrounded his testimony.
repute: in bad odor with the whole community.
Archaic. something that has a pleasant scent.
Also, especially British, odour.

1250–1300; Middle English < Old French < Latin

odorful, adjective
odorless, adjective

3. aroma, redolence, perfume. Odor, smell, scent, stench all refer to sensations perceived through the nose by the olfactory nerves. Odor and smell in literal contexts are often interchangeable. Figuratively, odor also usually occurs in positive contexts: the odor of sanctity. Smell is the most general and neutral of these two terms, deriving connotation generally from the context in which it is used: the tempting smell of fresh-baked bread; the rank smell of rotting vegetation. In figurative contexts smell may be either positive or negative: the sweet smell of success; a strong smell of duplicity pervading the affair. Scent refers either to delicate and pleasing aromas or to faint, barely perceptible smells: the scent of lilacs on the soft spring breeze; deer alarmed by the scent of man. Stench is strongly negative, referring both literally and figuratively to what is foul, sickening, or repulsive: the stench of rotting flesh; steeped in the stench of iniquity and treason.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
odor (ˈəʊdə)
the US spelling of odour

odour or odor (ˈəʊdə)
1.  the property of a substance that gives it a characteristic scent or smell
2.  a pervasive quality about something: an odour of dishonesty
3.  repute or regard (in the phrases in good odour, in bad odour)
[C13: from Old French odur, from Latin odor; related to Latin olēre to smell, Greek ōzein]
odor or odor
[C13: from Old French odur, from Latin odor; related to Latin olēre to smell, Greek ōzein]
'odourless or odor
'odorless or odor

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, from Anglo-Fr. odour, from O.Fr. odor (Fr. odeur), from L. odorem (nom. odor) "smell, scent," from PIE *od- (cf. L. olere "emit a smell, to smell of," with Sabine -l- for -d-; Gk. ozein "to smell;" Armenian hotim "I smell;" Lith. uodziu "to smell"). Odorous "fragrant" (1550) is from M.L. odorosus,
from L. odorus "having a smell," from odor. Good or bad odor, in ref. to repute, estimation, is from 1835. Odor of sanctity (1756) is from Fr. odeur de sainteté (17c.) "sweet or balsamic scent said to be exhaled by the bodies of eminent saints at death or upon disinterment."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

odor o·dor (ō'dər)

  1. The property or quality of a thing that affects, stimulates, or is perceived by the sense of smell.

  2. A sensation, stimulation, or perception of the sense of smell.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


the property of certain substances, in very small concentrations, to stimulate chemical sense receptors that sample the air or water surrounding an animal. In insects and other invertebrates and in aquatic animals, the perception of small chemical concentrations often merges with perception via contact of heavy concentrations (taste), and with other chemoreceptive specializations. See also smell.

Learn more about odor with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Breath odor is the scent of the air you breathe out of your mouth.
The devices pumped constant streams of air into their noses so a gust of odor
  would not wake them.
Above all there is the musty odor of decaying paper.
Foliage emits a strong wintergreen odor when bruised, turns reddish with winter
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