Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Redolent

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is redolent. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

As a synonym of aromatic, the word redolent can describe something that has a noticeable smell without specifying the scent, but more often it is accompanied by of or with and means “full of a specified fragrance,” as in “redolent with smoke.”

// No matter what time of year he visited, his grandmother’s house was always redolent of cloves and other warm spices.

REDOLENT in Context

“The train’s windows and colors were smudged with drought grime. Inside the coach cars, however, was a different atmosphere, one redolent with a new-something smell.” — Kevin Spear, The Orlando (Florida) Sentinel, 14 Oct. 2021

Did You Know?

Redolent traces back to the Latin verb olēre (“to smell”) and is a relative of olfactory (“of, relating to, or connected with the sense of smell”). In its earliest English uses in the 15th century, redolent simply meant “having an aroma.” Today, it usually applies to a place or thing permeated with odors. Scent and memory are famously linked, and an extended use of redolent to mean “evocative” or “suggestive” links them again, as in “lollipops redolent of childhood.”

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