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Often we'll refer to something as being "in my field of vision". How would you refer to something in the "field" of what we can hear, smell, taste, or touch?

Perhaps another way to put this question is: vision is to seeing as <what?> is to hearing/smelling/touching/tasting. (But it should still make sense in the context of the expression "field of vision".)

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  • I think those are two different questions. For instance, audition works for hearing for the second question, but not for the first. There is no equivalent of "field of vision" for hearing. Audible works for visible, but something can be in your field of vision and not visible (e.g., too small, too faint, etc.).
    – jimm101
    Dec 18 '16 at 18:49
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I don't think there's a common idiom for touch or for taste, since those require physical contact. You can use "range" as a catch-all, and it's used idiomatically with hearing.

The factory isn't in my range of hearing (or 'my hearing range'), so I don't know if they've rung the bell for shift change.

But I can't say I've ever seen the expression "My range of smell". Typically, distance isn't specified with smell unless it's very extreme. It's an attribute of the odor itself, not of my ability to sense it.

I could smell the fire from miles away.

She's wearing a very faint perfume, I could only smell it when I hugged her.

Range (MW noun, definition 6a)

the space or extent included, covered, or used

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    For "hearing range", you could also use earshot. Dec 1 '16 at 15:20
  • This is good, but in your first example, "factory" is a little weird. Maybe a better example would be "Dog whistles aren't in the human range of hearing." Dec 2 '16 at 2:23
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Why not "field of audition", in reference to what we can hear?

The field of audition, bounded by the curves of minimum and maximum loudness as functions of frequency, has been determined for a large number of ears, and the smaller included area most used in speech has been mapped.

In this case, however, there is an ambiguity: Field of audition refers chiefly to the range of frequencies that the ear is able to perceive. If you want to speak in terms of distance (which would be a bit dubious due to the factor of "volume" also playing its part), I guess you could say something like "within audible distance", a term that seems to have been officially adopted by German scientists.

IMO, same ambiguity applies to John Feltz's far more colloquial variant "range of hearing".

When it comes to vision, there is a much clearer distinction between one's field of vision and the so-called spectrum of visible colors.

In reference to smelling, you could possibly say "olfactory capabilities", or something like that, since "field of olfaction" is chiefly used to refer to the field of academic research, as such. (Check out Wikipedia's article on olfaction or olfactory receptors).

As for touch and taste, there is no field, as John Feltz has already noted.

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That fact that “field of vision” is universally recognised doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be more widely used. What rule prevents “field” applying to the other senses?

As John said, touch and taste require immediate physical contact. Whatever the distance, “range” takes no account of direction. Equally, “range” of vision or hearing describes the nature of the thing seen or the ability to hear it, not its position relative to the sensor.

Whether “hearing” is equivalent to “sight” or “vision” or “seeing” or anything else, shouldn’t stop anyone from using “field of hearing” or “field of smell”.