(redirected from olfactive)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.


the sense that enables one to perceive odors; it depends on the stimulation of sense organs in the nose by small particles carried in inhaled air. It is important not only for the detection of odors, but also for the enjoyment of food, since flavor is a blend of taste and smell. Taste registers only four qualities: salt, sour, bitter, and sweet; other qualities of flavor depend on smell. Called also olfaction.

The organs of smell are small patches of special cells (olfactory cells) in the nasal mucosa. One patch is located in each of the two main compartments of the back of the nose. The olfactory cells are connected to the brain by the first cranial nerve (olfactory nerve). Air currents do not flow directly over the patches in breathing; this is why one must sniff to detect a faint odor or to enjoy a fragrance to the fullest.

When one sniffs, air currents carrying molecules of odorous chemicals enter special compartments, called olfactory chambers, where the chemicals are dissolved in mucus. There they can act on the organs of smell in much the same way that solutions act on the taste buds of the tongue. The endings of the sensory nerves that detect odors, the olfactory receptors, can quickly adapt to an odor and cease to be stimulated by it after a few minutes of full exposure.

The sense of smell may be diminished or lost entirely, usually temporarily, as a result of an obstruction of the nose, nasal infection, injury or deterioration of the nasal tissue, brain tumor, or mental illness. In rare instances, injury or disease causes such damage to the olfactory nerve that loss of the sense of smell is permanent. Complete absence of the sense of smell is known as anosmia.


1. The sense of smell.
2. The act of smelling.
Synonym(s): osmesis, osphresis
[L. ol- facio, pp. -factus, to smell]


/ol·fac·tion/ (ol-fak´shun)
1. smell; the ability to perceive and distinguish odors.
2. the act of perceiving and distinguishing odors.


(ŏl-făk′shən, ōl-)
1. The sense of smell.
2. The act or process of smelling.


Etymology: L, olfacere, to smell
1 the act of smelling.
2 the sense of smell. olfactory, adj.


1. The sense of smell.
Synonym(s): smell (2) .
2. The act of smelling.
Synonym(s): osphresis.
[L. ol-facio, pp. -factus, to smell]


The sense of smell or the act of smelling.


the sense of smell, in which there is chemoreception of molecules suspended in the air.

olfaction (ōlˑ·fakˈ·shn),

n the sense of smell.


1. Sense of smell.
2. Act of smelling.
[L. ol-facio, pp. -factus, to smell]

olfaction (olfak´shən),

n the process of sensing certain odors during basic patient assessment, both intraoral and extraoral, in order to note changes in disease states; simply by detecting certain odors, the dental professional can suspect periodontitis, dental caries, necrotizing periodontal disease, diabetic acidosis, cigarette use, and alcohol abuse.


1. the act of smelling.
2. the sense of smell.

Patient discussion about olfaction

Q. I have a very acute sense of smell. Most things that have a smell cause me to have Migraines every day. I have heard that a chiropractor is who I need to treat me for this problem. Anyone else here have this problem? What have you done and were you able to treat it?

A. I can't remember where I heard about the chiropractor's involvement but it is really unpleasant. I tend to make life unpleasant for others to, just not to have a migraine. Things like cooking popcorn, perfumes, trash and many other things will give me a migraine (not a headache) right away. It may be called Hyperosmia (abnormal sense of smell).

Q. MY friends body is leaking and he smells awful. He also has a skin rash. He stinks.Can I help him.He is big. smokes too much,and does shower but he still smells. I need to get him in a chairty hospital. If ignored what will happened. Thank You Bettye

A. HI betty,thank god he has a friend like you--I dont like saying this but,your friend is killing himself,and the sooner you try to get him into a hospital the better--it not going to be easy-but you can only try.At this point he is at risk of LUNG CANCER--A VERY BAD INFECTION--AND CARDIAC ARREST,because of his weight,eating is an addiction,and people die from it,also people die from respiratory arrest because of his weight--stay strong--mrfoot56

More discussions about olfaction
References in periodicals archive ?
Temporal lobe epilepsy caused by head trauma in childhood, when he had seizures and demodulation on electroencephalography, sudden onset of gustative and olfactive hallucinations.
MAKING SCENTS: The exclusive Chanel olfactive table RACY LADY: Shots of Keira from the stunning advert which will hit TV screens today
Productos de Pitaya Amarilla en el Mundo Empresa Productos Empresa Comptoir Sud El producto Eaux del Viaje es dividido en siete Pacifique (Comptoir lineas de fragancias: Vainilla (Islas de Sud Pacifique Vainilla), fruta (Frutas Exoticas), Floral Olfactive Group).
This olfactive combination of energy and mystery also contains a touch that's brand new and ultra-sexy.
The HERACLES Electronic Nose uses ultra fast gas chromatography to measure and capture the unique signature of a product via a chemical or olfactive fingerprint.
Il s'agit moins d'un paysage compose que d'une ambiance indistinctement visuelle, sonore, olfactive et affective.
Exclusion d une malformation arterioveineusse de la gouttiere olfactive gauche par ligature endo-orbitaire des arteres etmoidales.
Umami, also recognised as the fifth olfactive sense, (the others being sweet, sour, salty and bitter) was first identified as a distinct taste in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda of the Tokyo Imperial University.
We know that our olfactive sense is triggered by flavor change rather than the simple presence of a flavor, hence bursts of flavor with a rapidly changing intensity are more noticed and attract attention more than if the flavor is present at a constant concentration--rather as a flashing light attracts attention more than a constantly glowing bulb.
Avant de devenir implicite, la focalisation changera de nature, et ce sera cette fois une sensation olfactive qui perturbera Bouvard et Pecuchet: "Ils s'engourdissaient dans l'odeur de l'encens" (f [degrees] 66 v [degrees]).
There is little need to underline their semantic homogeneity: the semantic fields of falling, stiffness, chromatic and olfactive variations through time pervade the text.