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Do You Smell That? #2

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Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:11 pm
Tenyo says...

Part Two: Adjectives

In part #1 we talked about all the different nouns you can use instead of 'smell.'
In Part #2 we'll be looking at adjectives.

If you're unfamiliar with what those funny numbers *1 and words (Standard) are for, here's a reminder:

Ten's Grading System:
Spoiler! :
1: You could stick this anywhere and it would still make sense.
2: Don't put the cat in the custard and you'll be alright.
3: You need to speak English to get this one.
4: This is in between three and five.
5: As a writer, you should put this somewhere.
6: Get a second pair of eyes to check this one is right.
7: Gosh you're getting brave.
8: It doesn't matter how you use this, because nobody else knows how to use it either.

Casual: Used in every day conversation.
Common: Almost everyone knows what this means.
Standard: Standard.
Fancy: For usage in poetry and impressing teachers.
Specific: Normally you'd have to be an avid reader, or interested in a particular topic to know what this means.
Rare: Save these ones for fancy poetry.
Deceased: I haven't heard this one used since the sixteen hundreds.

Now I've got two vocabulary lists in this one. The first is a list of adjectives to describe an object that is particularly smelly. The second is a list of adjectives to describe the smell itself.

The Vocabulary list:

Adjectives to describe a smelly object:

Malodorous 1* (Fancy)
Malodorous is as it sounds. Mal-odor-ous. It's something with an odor that is really, really bad. It's an easy word to use, but don't be tempted to throw it anywhere since many people don't actually know what it means.

Acrid 2* (Fancy)
If something is acrid then it carries a very sharp, bitter smell with it, like the smell of old fruit. Usually, it stinks to the point of distraction.

Aromatic *2 (Standard)
This is a nice one, and refers to things that have a sweet, pleasant smell. Most often it describes something that is relaxing or soothing.

Fetid 3* (Fancy)
Fetid (or Foetid, which nobody uses anymore) is a word used to describe the smell of decayed or rotten. Normally it???s nauseating.

Fragrant 5* (Standard)
A fragrance, or something that is fragrant, smells sweet and pleasant. It's not usually used to describe food, but it might be used to describe spices purely for their smell and not culinary value.

Rank *3 (Casual)
Make sure you use this one as an adjective. It has an array of meanings. For smell it refers to something disgusting and pungent. As an adjective in general it means something very strong, blunt or overpowering. As a noun it refers to a rating or classification.

Adjectives to describe the smell:

Savoury *6 (Standard)
Savouries are fermented but in a good way. It's a word generally attributed to foods, like breads and pastries (made with yeast,) wines, e.c.t. In most contexts is used to refer to the stuff you'd find in a bakery.
It's one of the main five taste/smells (sweet, bitter, salty and sour.) However since it's much less commonly used I figured it's worth it's own mention.

Acute *1 (Standard)
An acute smell is a very strong one, whether it's good or bad.

Pungent *3 (Standard)
This is usually strong and sharp, most often bitter or spicy, usually something stimulating or overpowering. It's an easy word to use in the context of smell.
When used to describe someone's manner or attitude it means they're sharp or witty, like they're making a point whatever the cost. It's a little more difficult to place in this context.

Fresh *2 (Casual)
This one is fairly self explanatory- it's something new or refreshing- whether it's the smell of fresh air or fresh blood, it gives a particular tingle.

Stale *2 (Casual)
Stale is the opposite of Fresh, and refers to something that has been sitting for a while, whether it's the stuffiness of stale air or the nasty stench of stale sandwiches.

Funky *6 (Common)
Okay, listen close. A funky smell is bad- it's usually something that you wouldn't want to sniff, like week old socks or that weird gooey concoction gurgling over the pan on the cooker.
However! Where most smells you can transfer over to atmosphere, this one is different. In any context except smell, funky means modern- maybe a little hipsterish, new and happening, kind of thing.

Musty *4 (Standard)
This is a hard one because it's commonly mistaken for Musky. Musk is the perfume stuff that I mentioned in the last chapter. Musty is more of a damp, mouldy smell, like those clothes that have been sitting in the back of the cupboard too long, or that smell you find under bridges and rocky tunnels.

Noxious *3 (Fancy)
Noxious is always an unpleasant smell, and in most cases it's something dangerous, usually fumes, gas, or poison. It's sometimes incorrectly linked to nauseous, but the two aren't really related by definition, so make sure you don't get those two mixed up.

Stuffy *2 (Casual)
Stuffy is more of a feeling than a smell, but it's used so commonly when refering to smells that I figure it deserves a place. It usually refers to warm, heavy feeling air, like a house that hasn't had the windows opened in a while, or a factory with too much smoke.
It can be sued to describe smell or atmosphere, but also to describe a persons nose in the context of having a blocked nose. As long as you put it in the right place it'll be fine whichever way you use it.

Rancid *4 (Standard)
Rancid is not a nice smell. It refers to something rotten or decayed, but not just anything. In reference to food, it's usually animal products like meat or butter, or oil. If I were to categorise it, I'd say that if it doesn't turn stale or furry, then it turns rancid.

Damp *2 (Casual)
Damp and Musty are kind of like cousins. They're different enough that you'd want to choose the right one, but similar enough that you wouldn't want to use both. Generally musty smells are the things that have been there for a while, where damp things smell like rainy days.
Damp most often refers to water, so if you spill juice on something and leave it to dry a little it would most likely smell sour rather than damp.

Earthy *5 (Fancy)
In the context of smell, something earthy will smell like dirt, or soil, and refers to 'earth' as in the ground. Which is easy enough.
According to my dictionary, when used to describe a person it means they're 'down to earth' and to describe an attitude it means 'rude or vulgar.' I'm not really familiar with the latter two meanings, but it's worth mentioning since it might just be a regional difference.

Gaseous *3 (Fancy)
This one is as it says, it's something that smells of smoke or fumes or any kind of gas, and is used only in that context.
The lesser used meaning when describing a person is that they use too many words to say simple things.

Metallic *5 (Standard)
Be a little careful with this one- the misuse of it will dull the effect. It's an adjective that can be used in various contexts, but I figured I'd put it in for it's particular smell.
Have you ever held coins in your sweat palm and then sniffed your palm afterwards? The result is a sharp and highly unpleasant smell. Metal doesn't normally smell unless it's oxidised (wet or rusted) which is why your dishes don't smell when left in water but your money will- because steel doesn't rust as easy as copper. Make sure you know what it actually smells like before you use it, so you get the right context.

Mouldy *4 (Casual)
Mouldy is the word people from UK and Canada use instead of Moldy. Technically this refers to the smell that mould gives off, and so, technically, should only be used when something has mould growing on it. Generally though it's used to describe a lot of things that are rotten or aged. If you're unsure then stick to the former, since it can occasionally cause confusion if you make something appear fuzzy when it's not.

Sickly *3 (Standard)
As a smell this usually describes the feeling it gives you rather than what is actually there. You can be in a hospital and not smell anything sickly, but then go to the bathroom where someone has made a large deposit and that would smell rather sickly.

Foul *2 (Casual)
A foul smell is something unpleasant and usually offensive or disruptive. It's a very strong word so you probably don't want to use it against someone, since it will always cause offence.


You'll never get the hang of words by memorising word lists. The best way to learn them is to use them. So here are a few challenges for you.

#1: Write each word in a sentence.

#2: Choose a word and correctly use it in the strangest context possible.

#3: Fit as many as you can into a 100 word piece of flash fiction.

#4: Choose one of the more difficult words. Use it in a random conversation and observe the reaction.

#5 Create three pretentious insults and three cheesy compliments.


If you complete any of the challenges, post them below!
Any extra words to add, or know of any variations, feel free to pm me and I'll edit the list.

We were born to be amazing.

Life is about losing everything.
— Isabel Allende