English Words: Noses and Smells

English Words: Noses and Smells Espresso English

You have one nose with two nostrils.

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:

English Words: Noses and Smells Espresso Englishsmell

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.”
“That stinks.”

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.

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English Words: Noses and Smells Espresso English

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