Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?


[moh-fet; French maw-fet] /moʊˈfɛt; French mɔˈfɛt/
a noxious emanation, consisting chiefly of carbon dioxide, escaping from the earth in regions of nearly extinct volcanic activity.
one of the openings or fissures from which this emanation issues.
Also, moffette.
1815-25; < French < Italian moffetta (Neapolitan mufeta), equivalent to muff(a) (Upper Italian mofa) mould (< Langobardic; compare German Muff mould, late Middle High German müffeln to give off a foul smell) + -etta -etta Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
British Dictionary definitions for moffette


an opening in a region of nearly extinct volcanic activity, through which carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and other gases pass
Word Origin
C19: from French, from Neapolitan Italian mofeta; compare dialect German muffezen to smell fetid
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Article for moffette


fumarole, or gaseous volcanic vent, that has a temperature well below the boiling point of water, though above the temperature of the surrounding air, and that is generally rich in carbon dioxide and perhaps methane and other hydrocarbons. When the winds are right, the issuing gases may drift and settle into nearby hollows or small valleys and cause the asphyxiation of animals and birds wandering in the areas. Such potentially deadly hollows have been noted in the Absaroka Range near Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, U.S., and at the base of Iceland's Hekla volcano.

Learn more about mofette with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for mofette

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for moffette

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for moffette