Odious vs odorous

Photo of author


Odious and odorous are two words that are often confused. Odious and odorous are not synonyms and they are not antonyms, they will not be found together in a thesaurus or other references. There are many words in English that are confused, whether they are used in written texts or are spoken, because they are spelled similarly or because their pronunciation is similar. A spell checker can be useful in this situation. When an English as a second language learner is presented a list of words, it is helpful to look up those vocabulary words in dictionaries or to do searches in online dictionaries. It is easy to remember the definitions of English words that are commonly spoken, or have a high frequency of usage. Less common words in the English language require explanation.We will examine the definitions of the words odious and odorous, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Odious means disgusting, abhorrent, repulsive. Something that is odious is revolting or turns one’s stomach. The term odious carries the connotation of something with a virtual or figurative stench, probably because the spelling of odious is so close to the word odor. Odious is an adjective, the adverb form is odiously and the noun form is odiousness. The word odious is derived from the Latin word odium, which means hatred.

Odorous means emitting a pronounced smell, giving off a strong odor. While the word odorous does not technically describe a bad smell, it almost always is used in reference to an unpleasant odor. Odorous is an adjective, the adverb form is odorously and the noun form is odorousness, though these derivations are rarely used. Odorous may also be used figuratively to mean something that is foul or has a bad feeling attached to it. The word odorous is derived from the Latin word odorus which means has a smell.


How the FBI and MI5 nailed the IRA’s most odious killer: Author TONY RENNELL on the spy nicknamed The Big Yank who wangled his way into the terror group’s inner circle via a flame-haired beauty he met in a Florida bar (The Daily Mail)

“As a member of the Northwestern community, I believe that personally held views, no matter how odious, cannot be a reason to undermine the vital principle of intellectual freedom that all academic institutions serve to protect.” (North by Northwestern)

Racism’s most odious form, though, is when it appears as official policy, as is the case with the “Black Identity Extremist” classification recently adopted by the FBI. (The Chicago Sun-Times)

What made this deal so odorous was that the purchase price was nearly 10 times the assessed value of the property. (The Hartford Courant)

They have menudo cooking outside (since it’s too odorous to cook indoors) and tamales they made over a year ago in the freezer. (The Monitor)

A blooming lily is sending an odorous stench wafting through Yew Dell Botanical Gardens in Crestwood, Kentucky. And you’re invited to bask in its gag-inducing aroma. (The Courier Journal)