Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An offensive smell; a stench.
  • n. A poisonous or foul-smelling gas emitted from the earth.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A poisonous or foul smelling gas emitted from the earth
  • n. A distinctive odour that is very unpleasant.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Noxious, pestilential, or foul exhalations from decomposing substances, filth, or other source.
  • n. A genus of mammals, including the skunks.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A pestilential exhalation, especially from the earth; any noxious or ill-smelling emanation, as from putrid or filthy substances; a noisome or poisonous stench.
  • n. [capitalized] [NL.] A genus of skunks, typical of the subfamily Mephitinæ.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a distinctive odor that is offensively unpleasant
  • n. a poisonous or foul smelling gas emitted from the earth
  • n. in some classifications: type genus of the subfamily Mephitinae

Etymologies

Latin mefītis, mephītis.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • Few, on either side of the political spectrum, come well out of the affair and over it all hangs the olid mephitis of abject appeasement.

    The Home Secretary Is Also Stupid

  • This indulgence, especially so on the part of an ex-president, is something of a mephitis, an abyssal seeking of ever lower depths and ever more perverse rhetorical indulgences.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » The Clinton Terror Bill

  • I ventured "putrid miasma" on one thread a few days ago, but "moral mephitis"?

    On Thursday, the Legg report will be published along with...

  • Michael B (8th Jan 4005pm) "an intellectual and moral mephitis."

    On Thursday, the Legg report will be published along with...

  • The MSM's reportage on Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, regimes such as Iran and Syria, etc. reflects, all too predictably and all too typically, a revulsion, an intellectual and moral mephitis. simon bacchini

    On Thursday, the Legg report will be published along with...

  • Does not the pungent mephitis of hypocrisy once more effortlessly wheeze from this humbugger of a politician?

    Archive 2007-12-23

  • During the night drive we encountered cottontails (Sylvilagus nuttali), black-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus californicus), pinyon mice (Peromyscus trueii), and one striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis)!

    Archive 2007-07-01

  • After their removal from Office, this pair of common skunks with apologies to Mephitis mephitis can then be tried for their many war criminals and then for 9-11 High Treason… The rest of their gang of war-idiots will be convicted of their many supporting crimes…

    Think Progress » “Not the last chance.”

  • Sniffing cautiously, I deduced that the barrels I saw contained-among other things-salt fish, tar, apples, beer, and sauerkraut, while bundles of woolen blankets dyed with cochineal and indigo, kegs of black powder, and half-tanned hides reeking of dog turds lent their own peculiar fragrances to the unique mephitis within.

    The Fiery Cross

  • Instantly a cone of black mephitis shot forth, a loathsome, bituminous stream of putrefaction that reeked of the grave and the cesspool, of the utmost reaches of decay before the dust accepts the disintegrated atoms.

    Astounding Stories of Super-Science February 1930

Comments

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  • "This, added to the mephitis still tainting the atmosphere, caused a number of other gentlemen to vomit, as well, and William felt his own gorge rise, but controlled it by vicious nose-pinching."
    —Diana Gabaldon, An Echo in the Bone (New York: Delacorte Press, 2009), 211

    December 17, 2009