nose & nostrils
You have one nose with two nostrils. Here are some common English collocations with nose:
- I have a runny nose. = I am sick and mucus is coming out of my nose.
- My nose is stuffed up. = I am sick and my nose is blocked so I can’t breathe.
- I gave Peter a bloody nose. = I hit him in the face and blood came out of his nose.
- I need to blow my nose. = I need to do this:
The word smell can be both a noun and a verb. It is neutral, so you can say something smells good or smells bad.
- What are you making for dinner? It smells delicious!
- The bathroom smells disgusting – he hasn’t cleaned it in weeks.
You can also say something smells like something else:
- It smells like smoke in here.
- This hand cream smells like strawberries.
Idiom: smell a rat
If you say “I smell a rat,” it means that you suspect something is wrong or somebody is being dishonest.
odor, stink, stench, & reek
These words describe a very bad smell.
“Stink” can be both a noun and a verb, “stench” and “odor” are nouns, and “reek” is a verb.
- No matter how many times I wash them, I can’t get the odor of sweat out of my gym socks.
- That garbage is three days old – it’s starting to stink.
- We threw away the rotten fruit that was causing the stench in the kitchen.
- He came home from the bar reeking of beer and vomit.
Idiom: That stinks
You can say “that stinks” to comment on something that is annoying or unfortunate. This expression is very informal:
“I can’t go to the baseball game because I have to do homework all weekend.”
Idiom: It reeks of…
You can use “reeks of” in a metaphorical sense to mean “full of something unpleasant”
- The election results reek of voting fraud.
- His statement reeks of hypocrisy.
scent & fragrance
These words both describe a good smell.
“Scent” and “fragrance” are nouns, and “fragrant” is an adjective.
- The scent of roses filled the room.
- I love the fragrance of her perfume.
“Sniff” is a verb that describes the action you do with your nose when you smell something:
- The dog sniffed the tree.
- I sniffed the milk to see if it was still good.
Idioms: sniff out & sniff at
To “sniff out” is to investigate and discover:
- The reporters sniffed out a scandal in the government.
To “sniff at” is to show disapproval by the gesture of sniffing.
- I made a suggestion during the meeting, but my boss just sniffed at me.