Words and smells both hold tremendous power over us as nose-owners. They provoke reactions of every color and size. They transport us to a favorite memory and firmly plant our index fingers and thumbs to our collective sniffers. In looking at how we smell-ify our lives, it’s important to note that words radiate meaning just like the smells we choose to describe. In fact, there’s a whole hierarchy of words we employ to describe and categorize these scents-ual experiences.
Let's take a look at these smell words from worst to best, so we can end on a high note. Smell good to you?
This word gives you the idea that an evacuation plan, to get away from the source of the reek, may need to be put into immediate effect. Women and children first!
"The reek reached the sidewalk outside the hoarder's house."
You might get the idea that a zombie got into some burritos, or perhaps someone is playing bass guitar riff with your colon. Funk is gunk and foul combined.
“Man, that dog park has a major funk to it when the sun bakes the grass where dogs mark their territory."
This is the sour big brother of the word “stink." Stank generally refers to an overdeveloped stink with some flair for the dramatic. It’s very commonly used by older brothers to describe their younger brother’s feet as well.
“Those gym socks have hit a level of stank bordering on assault with a deadly weapon."
We’ve hit the first of the words with an unpleasant tone. You’re trying to be polite yet informative about the negative impact the offending smell has upon you.
“Could you please do something about that day-old hot dog stink?"
Here we have the neutral Switzerland of smell words. It doesn't say anything particularly positive or negative by itself.
“Do you smell that? I smell something. Something smells around here."
Like a crime scene investigator, you are most likely tracking an odor with a distinct symphony of notes to it. You’re acknowledging uniqueness, but still remain conservative about your attitude toward this whiff.
“That’s a scent I’ve not smelled in a long time. Baby poop is so memorable."
This word is step up from the nondescript yet informative meaning of “scent.” Aroma usually has a positive attribution most often related to food and other pleasant olfactory factories.
“Seriously, the aroma coming from those brownies will force me take someone hostage if I don’t eat one right away."
Listen, most people think of flowers and perfume for this word, but there is a fragrant scent people often forget: people. We smell each other’s clothes and know what it means to nuzzle into a loved one. There's a sweet, nostalgic quality to this word.
“Her fragrance was unmistakable. It made flowers feel ashamed when she was around."
Whether it’s flowers, food or fine wine, the arrangement of notes within a smell is as complex and symphonic as an orchestra. Just like a bouquet of flowers, the gifts here last for days and retain a lovely meaning.
“The bouquet was as lovely as a dream. A dream involving chocolate flowers."
Honorable mention: Nosegasm
Sometimes, smells are so incredible and noteworthy there are no words for them. So, we have to make them up in the moment. This word sums up all of the best smells you’ve ever experienced into one, perfect expression.
“Every time I go into the laundry room, Gain detergent gives me a total nosegasm.”