What is the word for the phenomenon where a person's brain stops recognizing the initial smell of something?

For example – the initial smell of one's own "constitutional duty." That smell will be recognized by that person for only a moment or two.

The word is very specific to "smells." It is a word I learned, but forgot, in a hazardous materials training class. It is more of a scientific type word than a generic type word such as "adjust."


Olfactory fatigue:

Olfactory fatigue, also known as odor fatigue or olfactory adaptation, is the temporary, normal inability to distinguish a particular odor after a prolonged exposure to that airborne compound.[1] For example, when entering a restaurant initially the odor of food is often perceived as being very strong, but after time the awareness of the odor normally fades to the point where the smell is not perceptible or is much weaker.

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  • Thanks Reg. I do not believe that's the word though. I do appreciate it. – Phil Dec 8 '14 at 14:51
  • Another term for this is olfactory habituation. – ermanen Dec 9 '14 at 1:55

See if limen fits.

Limen -n. the smallest/lowest detectable sensation.

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  • 1
    All contributions thus far have been perfectly sensible. None of these words, however, have been foreign to me for decades. I thank you all for your suggestions. – Phil Dec 9 '14 at 11:12

[Olfactory/Odor] desensitization, adaptation (already mentioned by RegDwigHt), and cross-adaptation are considered as perils in the wine-tasting world.

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  • Maybe I will find the time to reconnect with my Hazardous Materials Prof. in-order to get to the bottom of this. If I do, I will keep you all informed. Thx – Phil Dec 9 '14 at 11:17

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