Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Noisome

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

What It Means

The word noisome describes what is very unpleasant or disgusting, and is used especially of disgusting smells.

// A noisome stench came from the narrow alley.

NOISOME in Context

“In 1905, a ‘garbage committee’ led by a Mrs. J.G. McLean demanded a more subtle and sanitary L.A. trash management than the noisy and noisome practice of trash cans collected and then dropped with a clang on public sidewalks where, as The Times wrote appetizingly, they lay ‘with reminiscences of the day before yesterday’s dinner clinging to the sides, there to fester and fry in the fierce rays of the sun.'” — Patt Morrison, The Los Angeles Times, 6 Feb. 2022

Did You Know?

Noisome looks and sounds like a close relation of noisy, but it’s not. While noisy describes what is excessively loud, noisome typically describes what is excessively stinky. (It is also used to describe things offensive to the senses generally, as well as things that are highly obnoxious, objectionable, or simply harmful.) Noisome comes from the synonymous Middle English noysome, which combined the suffix -some, meaning “characterized by a specified thing,” and the noun noy, meaning “annoyance.” Noisy, incidentally, comes ultimately from Latin nausea, meaning “nausea.”

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