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sense that enables an organism to perceive and distinguish the odors of various substances, also known as olfaction. In humans, the organ of smell is situated in the mucous membrane of the upper portion of the nasal cavity near the septum. It is made up of the olfactory cells, which are actually nerve cells that function as receptors for the sense of smell. The free ends of the cells project outward from the epithelial tissue in the form of numerous hairlike processes. These fibers are buried in the mucus that coats the inner surface of the nasal cavity and are stimulated by various odors. Nerve fibers extend from the olfactory cells to an area of the brain called the olfactory bulb. Any disturbance of the nasal cavity—such as the common cold—in which the olfactory hairs are covered with excess mucus or other material, interferes with the sense of smell. Most physiologists agree that although a substance must be volatile to be sniffed by the nose, it must subsequently be dissolved in the mucous lining of the nasal cavity to be smelled. It is also believed that there are only a few basic odors (perhaps about seven), and that all other odors are a combination of these. Attempts at classifying the so-called primary sensations of smell have not yet been successful. The sense of smell is not as strongly developed in humans as in many other vertebrates, particularly carnivores which employ olfactory organs to locate food and detect dangerous predators. To many invertebrates (especially insects) as well, smell is a highly developed sensory mechanism, necessary in obtaining food, in finding mating partners, and in recognizing other animals.

What does it mean when you dream about a smell?

Experiences from the past play a part in distinguishing what a smell in a dream means to the dreamer. Sometimes we remember people by the odors we identify them with, like grandpa’s pipe tobacco. In this example, the significance of the dream would depend on what grandpa meant to the dreamer.


To perceive by olfaction.


that sense (olfaction) by which scents or odours are perceived


At times you may experience the sense of smell in your dreams. The smell could be environmental. If there is a strong smell in your sleeping environment, you may perceive it and incorporate it into your dream. Otherwise, the smell in your dreams is triggered by a memory. You may be associating your dream experience with a pleasant or unpleasant order. For example, if you are dreaming about your mother, you may smell the aroma of a food she once cooked. The smell may trigger emotions and reflect the general quality of the experience in your dream.
References in classic literature ?
The witch-doctresses also stood on one side, wonderstruck, since no such smelling out as this had been seen in the land.
At length it drew on to evening, and the last company of the witch- doctors did their work, smelling out some of the keepers of the Emposeni, the house of the women.
He slunk forlornly through the deserted camp, smelling the rubbish-heaps and the discarded rags and tags of the gods.
The rich- haired Nymphs received him in their bosoms from the lord his father and fostered and nurtured him carefully in the dells of Nysa, where by the will of his father he grew up in a sweet- smelling cave, being reckoned among the immortals.
Trail, trail, went her long dress over the sopping grass, and she came back with her hands full of the hay that was cut yesterday--I suppose for rabbits or something, as she kept on smelling it.
Described as smelling similar to manure, Old Swan appears to be the latest area inflicted by the pungent odour.
The participants were then shown a word that either matched the smell, was related to the smell (as in the word "chocolate" after smelling peanut butter) or unrelated to the smell (the word "chocolate" after smelling gasoline).
So, if you are good at smelling blue cheese, it doesn't mean you're necessarily good at smelling the apple next to it.
Dr Stafford found people have a heightened sense of smell to non-food odours when they are hungry, but participants were better at smelling food after eating.
The interpretation of that is dependent on whether the person smelling has had experience in being able to detect and identify these changes.
London was named the worst smelling city in the country where people said car fumes, overflowing bins and public toilets.
SMELLING IS BELIEVING Smells from Beijing's Tiananmen Square during the 1989 massacre and from the bombing of Hiroshima feature in the If There Ever Was exhibition at the Reg vardy Gallery in Sunderland.