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[sent] /sɛnt/
a distinctive odor, especially when agreeable:
the scent of roses.
an odor left in passing, by means of which an animal or person may be traced.
a track or trail as or as if indicated by such an odor:
The dogs lost the scent and the prisoner escaped.
the sense of smell:
a remarkably keen scent.
small pieces of paper dropped by the hares in the game of hare and hounds.
verb (used with object)
to perceive or recognize by or as if by the sense of smell:
to scent trouble.
to fill with an odor; perfume.
verb (used without object)
to hunt by the sense of smell, as a hound.
Origin of scent
1325-75; (v.) earlier sent, Middle English senten < Middle French sentir to smell < Latin sentīre to feel; (noun) Middle English, derivative of the v. Cf. sense
Related forms
scentless, adjective
scentlessness, noun
nonscented, adjective
outscent, verb (used with object)
overscented, adjective
unscented, adjective
well-scented, adjective
Can be confused
cents, scents, sense.
1. See odor. 7. smell, sniff. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for scent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The air there was charged with the scent of gathered grapes.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • The scent of the water, at once enticing and bitter, intoxicated him.

    En Route J.-K. (Joris-Karl) Huysmans
  • He rose, and walked to the window, sniffing the scent of the flowers with relief.

    The Crooked House Brandon Fleming
  • "Give me the wind," is a prayer that the wind may be in his favor, so that the game may not scent him.

  • "If we don't do that, the deer will scent us and be off in no time," explained Captain Moore.

    Boys of The Fort Ralph Bonehill
British Dictionary definitions for scent


a distinctive smell, esp a pleasant one
a smell left in passing, by which a person or animal may be traced
a trail, clue, or guide
an instinctive ability for finding out or detecting
another word (esp Brit) for perfume
(transitive) to recognize or be aware of by or as if by the smell
(transitive) to have a suspicion of; detect: I scent foul play
(transitive) to fill with odour or fragrance
(intransitive) (of hounds, etc) to hunt by the sense of smell
to smell (at): the dog scented the air
Derived Forms
scented, adjective
scentless, adjective
scentlessness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French sentir to sense, from Latin sentīre to feel; see sense
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 scent

late 14c., sent "to find the scent of," from Old French sentir "to feel, smell, touch, taste; realize, perceive; make love to," from Latin sentire " to feel, perceive, sense, discern, hear, see" (see sense (n.)).

Originally a hunting term. The -c- appeared 17c., perhaps by influence of ascent, descent, etc., or by influence of science. This was a tendency in early Modern English, cf. scythe, and also scite, scituate. Figurative use from 1550s. Transitive sense "impregnate with an odor, perfume" is from 1690s. Related: Scented; scenting.


late 14c., "scent, smell, what can be smelled" (as a means of pursuit by a hound), from scent (v.). Almost always applied to agreeable odors.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with scent


see: throw off , def. 3.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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