I would describe a faint sound as being quiet, and recently I wished to express the idea of quietness for smells. I wanted a word like faint but specific to smells (or smells and tastes if such does exist). An example sentence might be

This tarmac is _____ after the rain

Does such a word exist?

This similar question asks about things that have no smell at all. While similar I am seeking to describe something that does have a smell albiet a faint one.

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    Google has failed me thus far. The closest I have come is hyposmia, but this refers to weakness of the smeller's sense, rather than weakness of the smell itself. Moreover, I can't find any evidence of an adjectival form. – vpn Aug 16 '17 at 4:48
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    A faint odor could be called a whiff. – Xanne Aug 16 '17 at 8:11
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    Are you trying to say something like, "This tarmac gives off a hint of <something> after the rain"? – Jim Aug 16 '17 at 14:26
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    Bland, insipid or unstimulating could work, but they're not specific to smells (could be fine if its a phrase not SWR) – Alok Aug 17 '17 at 2:09
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    If you don't need literal meaning and just need to play with the "strength" of the word Unscented might be an option (although it literally means "no scent" or "odorless"). I would interpret it as: "Smells less than it should". – armatita Aug 18 '17 at 8:17

This tarmac is faintly odorous after the rain.

This tarmac is faintly scented after the rain.


It's not elegant, but:


  1. to rid of odor, especially of unpleasant odor.

It really depends on your interpretation of the de- prefix. Does it infer an absolute removal of the odor, or merely a reduction/inhibition of it?


'Petrichor' is a word for the smell of the earth after a rain. Perhaps a derivative or similar of that may help.

  • I'm not really concerned with Tarmac. That's just an example. Moreover the smell of petrichor actually comes from plants not the earth and doesn't really smell much like wet tarmac. – Sriotchilism O'Zaic Aug 18 '17 at 5:47
  • Both tarmac and concrete are good repositories of petrichor (geosmin), which is released by rain. If you want a faint peaceful smell, try snow. – AmI Sep 29 '18 at 19:28

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