Below are scent descriptors culled from many sources. The largest group are in the “Semantic Quality” categories, which are semantic odor quality descriptors used for profiling (adapted from Dravnieks, 1985).
This is an informal labor of love, with no paid editors, please send an email if you find an error, omission of attribution or if you have word(s) to add.
Words to date..
agrestic, adjective, Scent Descriptor. Relating to the country; rural or rustic.
alliaceous, adjective, Scent Descriptor. Relating to or denoting plants of a group that comprises the onions and other alliums. Key notes : garlic (ail is French for garlic), leek, white truffle (latter not alliacae family of plant but smell yes), more than onions.
ambrosial, Scent Descriptors, Perfume. Exceptionally pleasing to taste or smell; especially delicious or fragrant. worthy of the gods; divine
bibliosmia, noun, Scent of books. Bibliosmia or book-smell is caused by the chemical breakdown of compounds within the paper (2014, Dr. Oliver Tearle)
chypre, noun, Scent Descriptors. Perfume Style. Family (or concept) of perfumes that are characterised by an accord composed of citrus top notes, a middle centered on cistus labdanum, and a mossy-animalic set of basenotes derived from oakmoss
hawthorn, Medieval folk also asserted that the smell of hawthorn blossom was just like the smell of the Great Plague in London. Botanists later discovered the reason for this. The chemical trimethylamine present in hawthorn blossom is also formed in decaying animal tissue.
fougère, noun, Scent Descriptors. Perfume Style. Fougère perfumes are made with a blend of fragrances: top-notes are sweet, with the scent of lavender flowers; as the more volatile components evaporate, the scents of oakmoss, derived from a species of lichen and described as woody, sharp and slightly sweet, and coumarin, similar to the scent of new-mown hay, become.
vellichor, noun , Scent Descriptor, Books. The strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time—filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured. - John Koenig (word contribution from Suze Nightengale
vamber, adjective, Scent Descriptor, Perfume. Vanilla + Amber - coined in 2020 as a reaction to Oriental terms traditionally found in the perfume landscape. - contributed by Ryan Day Castle
Each Category below titled “Semantic Quality” are semantic odor quality descriptors used for profiling (adapted from Dravnieks, 1985)
SEMANTIC QUALITY, HUMANALIC (BODY)
seminal, like sperm
SEMANTIC QUALITY, CHEMICAL
nail polish remover
sharp, pungent, acid
sour, acid, vinegar
turpentine, pine oil
SEMANTIC QUALITY, COMMON
SEMANTIC QUALITY, FOODS
bakery, fresh bread
SEMANTIC QUALITY, FOUL
fermented, rotten fruit
putrid, foul, decayed
SEMANTIC QUALITY, FRUITS
SEMANTIC QUALITY, MATERIALS
fresh tobacco smoke
stale tobacco smoke
wet wool, wet dog
SEMANTIC QUALITY, MEATS
blood, raw meat
kippery, smoked fish
meat, cooked good
SEMANTIC QUALITY, OUTDOORS
herbal, cut grass
musty, earthy, moldy
SEMANTIC QUALITY, SPICES
SEMANTIC QUALITY, VEGETABLES
animalic, Typically ones that smell like skin, fur, body smells, etc. Classically, they are musk ( originally from beavers and deer), ambergris ( digestive byproduct of whales), and civet ( from a civet cat.)
aromatic-herbal, Bibliosmia or book-smell is caused by the chemical breakdown of compounds within the paper. - 2014, Dr. Oliver Tearle