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[muhs-tee] /ˈmʌs ti/
adjective, mustier, mustiest.
having an odor or flavor suggestive of mold, as old buildings, long-closed rooms, or stale food.
obsolete; outdated; antiquated:
musty laws.
dull; apathetic.
Origin of musty1
1520-30; perhaps variant of moisty (Middle English; see moist, -y1) with loss of i before s as in master
Related forms
mustily, adverb
mustiness, noun
1. dank, moldy, stale.


[muhs-tee] /ˈmʌs ti/
noun, plural musties.
(formerly) a kind of snuff having a musty flavor.
1700-10; noun use of musty1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for musty
  • The formerly dark, musty building became light-filled and bright.
  • The birds were all around us-large and small, light and dark, squawking and screeching-and the air reeked of musty guano.
  • Instead of the musty smell of book-filled stacks, the first thing that strikes you is the cold.
  • Above all there is the musty odor of decaying paper.
  • Four poles were lodged at the four corners, and a musty, threadbare cloth was mounted as a cover.
  • Inside, the air was dark and musty, with a few cracks of light pouring in from the open gaps between logs.
  • Swamp coolers got their name because they add humidity and, if not properly maintained, a musty smell to the air.
  • The air in that grotto, dank and musty, has the smell of history.
  • Dehumidifiers make living comfy by removing moisture through the air and obtaining rid of mold, mildew and musty smells.
  • Hay insulation could also become musty, which would impart a stale flavor to the food.
British Dictionary definitions for musty


adjective -tier, -tiest
smelling or tasting old, stale, or mouldy
old-fashioned, dull, or hackneyed: musty ideas
Derived Forms
mustily, adverb
mustiness, noun
Word Origin
C16: perhaps a variant of obsolete moisty, influenced by must³
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
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Word Origin and History for musty

1520s, perhaps a variant of moisty "moist, damp" (see moist). Related: Mustiness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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