v. sniffed, sniff·ing, sniffs
a. To inhale a short, audible breath through the nose, as in smelling something.
b. To sniffle.
2. To use the sense of smell, as in savoring or investigating: sniffed at the jar to see what it held.
3. To regard something in a contemptuous or dismissive manner: The critics sniffed at the adaptation of the novel to film.
4. Informal To pry; snoop: The reporters came sniffing around for more details.
1. To inhale forcibly through the nose: sniffed the cool morning air.
2. To smell, as in savoring or investigating: sniffed the lilacs; sniffed the breeze for traces of smoke.
3. To perceive or detect by or as if by sniffing: dogs that sniffed out the trail through the snow; sniffed trouble ahead.
4. To utter in a contemptuous or haughty manner: The countess sniffed her disapproval.
1. An instance or the sound of sniffing.
2. Something sniffed or perceived by or as if by sniffing; a whiff: a sniff of perfume; a sniff of scandal.
[Middle English sniffen, probably of Scandinavian origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.