1. struggler
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    struggler Member

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    looking for some adjectives for the smell of sweat

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by struggler, Apr 9, 2013.

    I've been doing a lot of searching on the internet trying to find this, however I haven't come up with anything but 'rank'. I'm looking for a word to describe the smell of sweat on someone that hasn't washed in a while and has accumulated in their clothing. The frustrating thing is that I'm 100% sure I've read of some good describing words for this exact thing before in novels but am coming up with blank now. I'm not looking for anything extreme, just like, you know, if you've ever done the 'smell test' and there's that smell you know its sweat. Anyone?
     
  2. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    Most readers will know what stale sweat and BO smells like, so they could use their own imaginations. Other than that, you could use a mixture of urine/cabbage/fish.

    But rank body odour would get the message across. :eek:
     
  3. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I too think "rank" is enough to get the message across. You could use a metaphor along side of it to be more specific about the smell or just something like "His rank odour made me gag."
     
  4. Gonki
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    Gonki Member

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    caustic, acrid
     
  5. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    he smelt like:

    a construction worker clocking off

    a trawlerman mid-shift

    that homeless guy under the bridge

    Smelly Smithy from 2nd grade
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    musty
    musky
     
  7. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    I like these. What about pungent? Maybe that word would be an adjective to describe the extent of the stench :rolleyes: ... forceful? oppressive? sour?
     
  8. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Acrid, pungent, musky - all good.

    It's often described as a sweet/sour smell, but those usually make me think of Chinese food and then I'm hungry (and annoyed). Like one book (can't remember what it was) said something like "Sweetly sour smell of day old sweat.." Disgusting, but it still made me hungry, heh. I'm pretty sure that wasn't the intent, but still.
     
  9. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    gamy, malodorous, fetor, graveolent,
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There are different kinds of sweat, too. Prolonged fear produces a sweat that is more sour, more acrid, more ammoniacal than normal sweat. Sexual arousal produces a sweat rich in pheromones, which also changes the odor, makes it muskier. Sweat from heavy exertion is also muskier, but not in the same way. Also, the person's diet can change the scent, as can gender and ethnicity. Also, sweat ages and becomes stale and rank, like sports gear stored in a gym locker for weeks.

    Best to capture these nuances primarily by association, rather than by straight description.
     
  11. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    gag... ahem :p

    Agree!
     
  12. Anthelionryu
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    Anthelionryu Member

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    Putrid?
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in some cases, even 'sexy'!
     
  14. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I probably wouldn't even use an adjective. Well, okay, this is for an extreme case, I suppose, but there was no adjective I could think of when I started BJJ and found myself in a big, sweaty dude's armpit or in the close vicinity of their crotches more often than a woman should in their lifetime.

    I'd show it. Gagging, holding breath, wrinkling nose, turning away, jerking their head away and crying "Je-ee-sus!" pulling a shirt over their nose, etc. Or come up with something imaginative. Like it smelled like rotten eggs with a dope habit had nested in his old gym boxers.
     
  15. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    I take Judo, and I know where Kat is coming from with this. For me, whenever I came close to a person that smelled bad(no matter the situation) I avoided them completely, breathed in fresh air from an open window, or tell them to go away.
     
  16. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I wonder if it's a Finnish thing then not to care for one's personal hygiene? I mean, the only guy there who hasn't reeked like balls on a hot Arizona day is my hubbie. How do you steer clear from the horror when it's 19 dudes out of 20 who've made an art out of avoiding the shower and never seem to wash their gi?

    Granted, you kinda get used to it. And often have bigger problems than the smell of sweat to deal with on the tatami.
     
  17. Stukov
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    Stukov Member

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    I think 'rancid' lends itself quite well to the stale smell of someone who hasn't washed in a while.

    Wonderful word.
     
  18. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    ugh, unwashed gi, thankfully i practiced Shotokan Karate and there was only a couple who truly reeked in the club, and most of the time it was easy to avoid being near them. not particularly pleasant, especially if cotton, canvas gi's weren't so bad
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Putrid doesn't really fit. Putrid is the small of decay, of rot. If what you smell is putrid, chances are there is more than sweat involved, such as a serious infection (necrotizing fasciitis, gangrene).
     

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