Past Tense Of Smell: Smelled or Smelt? (Pronunciation & Usage)

By Benjamin Essek

What Is The Past Tense Of Smell?

You may feel shocked by over 200 irregular verbs, including the verb run and the verb forsake. But it can be easier if you learn every lesson unit daily. 

And today’s topic is smell in past tense. In short, it’s SMELT (S-M-E-L-T) or SMELLED (S-M-E-L-L-E-D). However, the latter is less common in both British and American English. We will dive into this question in our FAQ section in the final part.

To see all the verb forms for smell and smell past tense, please help check the table below:

Basic Form/Derived Form (V1) smell
Present Form/3rd Person/Singular Form (V2) smells
Past Form (V3) smelt/smelled
Past Participle Form (V4) smelt/smelled
Present Participle/Gerund (V5) smelling

To learn more about the verb “smell”, please help check the video below:

The irregular verb ‘smell’ and related vocabulary.

How To Pronounce Smell Past Tense Correctly?

Here comes a short table depicting how to enunciate the verb smell and its other forms. What we provided is based on the prestigious Oxford English Dictionary: 

Form of word


British English

American English
smell /smel/



/smelz/ /smelz/
smelt /smelt/



/smeld/ /smeld/
smelling /ˈsmelɪŋ/


How About The Meaning Of Smelt?

  1. To feel that one thing is going to happen or exists.

2. To have an unpleasant smell.

3. To put someone’s nose to breathe in or near something so that they can identify or discover its smell.

4. To be able to recognize and notice smells.

5. To notice or recognize a particular smell.

6. To have a special smell.

Past Tense For Smell: Vocabulary Quiz

Created on By Benjamin Essek

Past Tense Of Smell

Go for the homework sections, as normal, with 5 simple questions. Take your time and think through before choosing the answer:

1 / 5

  1. Cigarettes make your clothes …………… awful.

2 / 5

2. The man ………….. strongly of alcohol yesterday.

3 / 5

3. Trouble is, my tenant on the second floor can ………. coffee from my kitchen on the first floor.

4 / 5

4. Take the garbage out before it starts to …………..

5 / 5

5. He could …………. the chemical and substance effluent off the whole land: He could not remember noticing that stench before.

Your score is

The average score is 0%



Past Participle Of Smell: What Is It? 

The past tense of “smell” is “smelt”, as stated above.

Is Smelt The Past Tense Of Smell?

Yes. It’s correct. “Smelt” is also the past participle of “smell”. Besides that, “smelled” can be the alternative to “smelt” yet it’s less popular than “smelt”.

How Do You Spell Smell? 

You can spell this irregular verb S-M-E-L-L.

What Are Some Idioms Using “Smell”? 

  1. Smell a rat: To suspect that one thing is wrong about a particular case.
  2. Come out of/up something smelling of roses: To have a great reputation, though you have been engaged in something that could have given people a wrong opinion of you.
  1. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet: What is vital is what things or people are, not what they are called.
  2. Wake up and smell the coffee: Mention that somebody becomes aware of what is occurring in a situation, especially when something is wrong or unpleasant.

Is It Smelling Or Smelt?

The correct answer is “is it smelt”. To explain, this sentence uses the passive voice. And you must utilize the “simple past tense” of “smell” – SMELT.

Is Spelt A Word?

Yes. Spelt is the past tense and past participle of “smell”.

Is Smell A Noun Or A Verb?

“Smell” can be a verb or a noun in a sentence. The noun “smell”, it can refer to these meanings:

  1. The act of smelling one thing.
  2. The capability to sense things with your nose.
  3. An unpleasant smell.
  4. The something’s quality that animals and people sense through their noses.

What Is The Difference Between Smelled And Smelt?

As stated, not many use “smelled” as the past tense of smell. It’s just used by a small part of American and Canadian English. Thus, “smelled” is often considered a misspelling of “smelt”. 

All in all, a writer anywhere in North America can utilize “smelled” as it is the accurate spelling. 

On the flip hand, “smelt” is exclusively in the British English language. Beyond that, both smelled and smelt are both acceptable spellings in British English.