Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


the loss or lack of a sense of smell

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun anosmia is formed from the prefix ‘an-‘ meaning ‘without’ or ‘not’, and the Greek ‘osme’ meaning ‘smell’. It was first used in the early 19th century.


The loss of a sense of smell or anosmia has been identified as one of the symptoms of COVID-19, experienced by some otherwise asymptomatic patients. The prefix a-, which changes to ‘an-‘ when it precedes a vowel, is used to indicate a lack or absence, as in ‘asymptomatic’. Other words with the ‘an-‘ prefix are anaerobic, meaning without oxygen; anaemic, without blood; and anorexic, which literally means without appetite. Anosmia is an entry in our crowdsourced Open Dictionary, submitted last year along with the related adjective anosmic. You can submit entries here.


On cranial nerve examination, there was anosmia of the left nostril.
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Glenn Sealey was on hand to help show anosmia sufferers that dressings are a great way to add basic taste elements and piquancy to dishes that might otherwise be lacking in flavour.
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Their study found that about two thirds of the patients were anosmic and that the rest had difficulty in smelling.”
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Related words

smell, taste, sight, hearing

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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