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WORD OF THE DAY: OLFACTORY
What It Means
Olfactory describes things that have to do with the sense of smell.
// Few can deny the olfactory pleasures of fresh-baked bread, sea breezes, and apple blossoms—all scents with the power to trigger intense nostalgia.
OLFACTORY in Context
“Dogs are uniquely positioned to collect data that helps humans track and preserve endangered species—and find invasive species—because of their exceptional sense of smell. Dogs have millions more olfactory receptor cells than humans.” — Sydney Page, The Washington Post, 9 Sept. 2023
Did You Know?
No, olfactory is not a noun meaning “a place that makes scents”; for that, you want perfumery, which makes more sense. Olfactory is instead an adjective used to describe things related to one’s sense of smell, that which lets you detect fruit with your snoot, a leek with your beak, Shiraz with your schnozz. Olfactory comes from the Latin word olfacere (“to smell”), which in turn combines two verbs, olēre (“to give off a smell”) and facere (“to do”). It often appears in scientific contexts (as in “olfactory nerves,” the nerves that pass from the nose to the brain and contain the receptors that make smelling possible), but it is occasionally used in less technical writing and speech. The pleasant smell of hot mulled cider, for example, might be considered an “olfactory delight,” depending on the spices and your own sensibilities, of course. As they say, the nose knows.
Merriam Webster Dictionary