Smelled vs Smelt

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What’s the difference between them?



Past tense of 'smell,' meaning to perceive odor or scent through the nose.


1. The smell of my mother's cooking always smelled so delicious.

2. I smelled something burning in the kitchen.

3. The flowers in the garden smelled beautiful in the summer breeze.



Meaning is the same, but such spelling is mostly used in British English.


1. The smelt of frying onions filled the kitchen.

2. The boy smelt the roses in the garden.

3. The factory smelt of hot metal and oil.

Learn similar and opposite words to spot the difference




1. Scented

2. Redolent

3. Aromatic

4. Pungent

5. Perfumed

1. Unscented

2. Odorless

3. Inodorous

4. Unperfumed

5. Not detected by the Sense of Smell


1. Scented

2. Redolent

3. Aromatic

4. Pungent

5. Perfumed

1. Solidify

2. Separate

3. Refrain

4. Freeze

5. Keep Apart

Tricks for mastery

Useful tips to understand the difference between confusing words "Smelled", "Smelt".

1. 'Smelled' is used in American English.

2. 'Smelt' is used in British English.

3. A mnemonic phrase to help remember which spelling to use for each dialect is 'American English smelled, British English smelt'.

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Frequently asked questions

In what situations should the word 'smelled' be used?

'Smelled' is typically used in American English when referring to something that has been smelled in the past, usually recently. For example, 'I smelled something burning earlier'. It is also used when referring to something that has an odour that is noticeable or distinguishable such as 'The room smelled like paint'.

When is the appropriate context for using the word 'smelt'?

'Smelt' is the past tense of the verb 'to smell', and is often used in British English when referring to something that has been smelled in the past, but not necessarily recently. For example, 'I smelt something burning last week'. It can also be used in a figurative way, such as 'I smelt a rat'.

Do the two words share the same pronunciation?

Yes, both 'smelled' and 'smelt' are pronounced the same way, with the stress on the first syllable.

What are some common mistakes people make when using these words?

One of the most common mistakes people make when using these words is using 'smelt' when they should use 'smelled', or vice versIt is important to note that 'smelt' is used in British English, while 'smelled' is used in American English.

Fill in the gaps to check yourself

1. She ________ the roses and smiled.

2. I could have sworn I ________ freshly baked bread when I walked past the bakery.

3. In London, after the rain, the streets often ________ of wet asphalt.

4. She remarked, Its strange, but the tea ________ a bit like vanilla.

5. When he opened the old book, he ________ the distinct scent of aged paper.

6. The room ________ strongly of incense and spices.

1. smelled/smelt

Explanation: No specific clue indicating British or American English, so both smelled and smelt are correct.

2. smelled

Explanation: The hint here is bakery, which, while common worldwide, is more often referenced in American contexts compared to bakers or bakehouse which might be found in British contexts. Therefore, the American variant smelled is the better fit.

3. smelt

Explanation: London is the clue which indicates a British context. Hence, smelt, the British spelling, is more appropriate.

4. smelled/smelt

Explanation: Theres no specific clue to lean towards either American or British English. Both variants are acceptable.

5. smelled/smelt

Explanation: Again, theres no specific regional clue given in the sentence. Both smelled and smelt are correct.

6. smelled/smelt

Explanation: The sentence does not have any indicators for British or American context, so both variants are accepted.

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List of Commonly Confused Words

Finding your way around the English language can be hard, especially since there are so many confusing words and rules. So, a list of the most confusing words in English is an extremely useful tool for improving language accuracy and sharing the ideas clearly.