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[ol-fak-shuh n, ohl-] /ɒlˈfæk ʃən, oʊl-/
the act of smelling.
the sense of smell.
1840-50; < Latin olfact(us) past participle of olfacere to smell (see olfactory) + -ion Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for olfaction
  • For decades, the received wisdom among biologists has been that human beings are depauperate animals when it comes to olfaction.
  • Studies of the brains of mice show that regions involved in olfaction also react to sound.
  • In addition to these two growth spurts, the researchers suggest, olfaction led to a third set of changes in the mammal brain.
  • Areas of the brain relating to olfaction are decreased in primates in general, and more so in great apes.
  • olfaction has been viewed as having little role in guiding behavior in these species.
British Dictionary definitions for olfaction


the sense of smell
the act or function of smelling
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 olfaction

noun of action from Latin olfactus, past participle of olfacere "to smell, get the smell of" (transitive), from olere "to emit a smell" (see odor) + facere "to make" (see factitious).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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olfaction in Medicine

olfaction ol·fac·tion (ŏl-fāk'shən, ōl-)
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 Article for olfaction


the detection and identification by sensory organs of airborne chemicals. The concept of smell, as it applies to humans, becomes less distinct when invertebrates and lower vertebrates (fish and amphibians) are considered, because many lower animals detect chemicals in the environment by means of receptors in various locations on the body, and no invertebrate possesses a chemoreceptive structure resembling the vertebrate nasal cavity. For this reason, many authorities prefer to regard smell as distance chemoreception and taste as contact chemoreception.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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