smell

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smell

 [smel]
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.

smell

(smel),
To scent; to perceive an odor by means of the olfactory apparatus.

smell

(smel) olfaction.

smell

(smĕl)
n.
a. The sense, located in the nasal cavities of mammals and relying on the olfactory nerves, by which molecules borne in a fluid such as air can be perceived; the olfactory sense.
b. A similar sense in other animals, as insects' ability to perceive air-borne molecules with their antennae.
v. smelled or smelt (smĕlt), smelling, smells
v.tr.
a. To perceive (an odor) by the sense of smell.
b. To perceive or detect (something) by a chemosensory organ, such as an antenna.
v.intr.
To use the sense of smell.

smell

Etymology: ME, smellen, to detect odors
1 the special sense that allows perception of odors through the stimulation of the olfactory nerves; olfaction. See also anosmia.
2 any odor, pleasant or unpleasant.
noun Popularly, an odour or scent
verb To perceive odour or scent via the olfactory nerve

smell

noun Popularly, an odor or scent verb To perceive odor or scent by stimuli affecting the olfactory nerves. See Olfaction.

smell

(smel)
1. To scent; to perceive by means of the olfactory apparatus.
2. Synonym(s): olfaction (1) .
3. Synonym(s): odor.

smell

(smel) [ME. smellen, to reek]
Enlarge picture
SENSE OF SMELL
1. To perceive by stimulation of the olfactory nerves. The sense of smell is a chemical sense dependent on sensory cells on the surface of the upper part of the nasal septum and the superior nasal concha. These sensory cells live for an average of 30 days and are affected by a variety of factors, including age, nutritional and hormonal states, drugs, and therapeutic radiation. Synonym: olfactory perception See: illustration
2. The property of something affecting the olfactory organs. In clinical medicine, the smell arising from the patient's body, feces, breath, urine, vagina, or clothing may provide information concerning diagnosis. The smell on a patient's clothing, for example, may be due to a toxic chemical that spilled on the clothes. A patient may attempt to alter or mask the smell of alcohol on the breath by using medicated or flavored lozenges, mouthwashes, sprays, or mints. Even though our sense of smell is relatively weak compared with that of some animals, humans have the capacity to distinguish among as many as 10,000 different odors. The inhaled substance must be volatile (i.e., capable of diffusing in air) for us to perceive it, and the volatile chemical must also be soluble in water. See: odor

Abnormalities in the sense of smell include: Anosmia: A loss of the sense of smell. It may be a local and temporary condition resulting from acute and chronic rhinitis, mouth breathing, nasal polyps, dryness of the nasal mucous membrane, pollens, or very offensive odors. It may also result from disease or injury of the olfactory tract, bone disease near the olfactory nerve, disease of the nasal accessory sinuses, meningitis, or tumors or syphilis affecting the olfactory nerve. It may rarely represent a conversion disorder. Disease of one cranial hemisphere or of one nasal chamber may also account for anosmia. Synonym: anodmia; anosphrasia

Hyperosmia: An increased sensitivity to odors.

Kakosmia: The perception of bad odors where none exist; it may be due to head injuries or occur in hallucinations or certain psychoses. Synonym: cacosmia

Parosmia: A perverted sense of smell. Odors that are considered agreeable by others are perceived as being offensive, and disagreeable odors are found pleasant. Synonym: parosphresia

smell

One of the five senses. Smell is mediated by airborne chemical particles that dissolve in the layer of mucus on the upper part of the nose lining and stimulate the endings of the olfactory nerve twigs. The olfactory system is capable of distinguishing a large number of distinct odours.

smell,

n a distinguishable odor released by a substance and recognized by the body's olfactory system.

smell

(smel)
1. To scent; to perceive an odor by means of the olfactory apparatus.
2. Synonym(s): odor.

smell,

n the special sense that enables odors to be perceived through the stimulation of the olfactory nerves.

smell

1. an odor.
2. the sense that enables an animal to perceive odors. The sense of smell 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. 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. The organs of smell are small patches of special (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 (olfactory) nerve.

abnormal smell
see odor, taint.
organ of smell
includes the olfactory sense organs, olfactory nerves, and the nerve cells of the olfactory bulb of the brain.

Patient discussion about smell

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 smell
References in classic literature ?
Well," said his master, "I should not like him to take cold; but I don't like the smell of this stable.
Therefore what he gives (Whose praise be ever sung) to man in part Spiritual, may of purest Spirits be found No ingrateful food: and food alike those pure Intelligential substances require As doth your Rational; and both contain Within them every lower facultie Of sense, whereby they hear, see, smell, touch, taste, Tasting concoct, digest, assimilate, And corporeal to incorporeal turn.
Marvel not at that, Sancho my friend," said Don Quixote; "for let me tell thee devils are crafty; and even if they do carry odours about with them, they themselves have no smell, because they are spirits; or, if they have any smell, they cannot smell of anything sweet, but of something foul and fetid; and the reason is that as they carry hell with them wherever they go, and can get no ease whatever from their torments, and as a sweet smell is a thing that gives pleasure and enjoyment, it is impossible that they can smell sweet; if, then, this devil thou speakest of seems to thee to smell of amber, either thou art deceiving thyself, or he wants to deceive thee by making thee fancy he is not a devil.
A universal neighing and capering took place; they would rush forward, smell to the blankets, paw the earth, snort, whinny and prance round with head and tail erect, until the blankets were opened, and the welcome provender spread before them.
Of course the air round an Indian village is full of all kinds of smells, and to any creature who does nearly all his thinking through his nose, smells are as maddening as music and drugs are to human beings.
The steamy smell of dirty clothes, which had entered with her from the kitchen, was sickening.
This strange blending of odours consisted of something faintly and unpleasantly aromatic, mixed with another underlying smell, so unutterably sickening that he threw open the window, and put his head out into the fresh air, unable to endure the horribly infected atmosphere for a moment longer.
Smell at the gates of the people and name them, ye jackals
I cannot draw you a picture of Peter and Benjamin underneath the basket, because it was quite dark, and because the smell of onions was fearful; it made Peter Rabbit and little Benjamin cry.
There was blood, I saw, in the sink,--brown, and some scarlet--and I smelt the peculiar smell of carbolic acid.
Andrea, indeed, inhaled the scent of something cooking which was not unwelcome to him, hungry as he was; it was that mixture of fat and garlic peculiar to provincial kitchens of an inferior order, added to that of dried fish, and above all, the pungent smell of musk and cloves.
I do not mean that they smell badly so much as that each of them seems to contain something which gives forth a rank, sickly-sweet odour.