- a strong, unpleasant smell.
- vapor or steam.
verb (used without object)
- to smell strongly and unpleasantly.
- to be strongly pervaded with something unpleasant or offensive.
- to give off steam, smoke, etc.
- to be wet with sweat, blood, etc.
verb (used with object)
- to give off; emit; exude.
- to expose to or treat with smoke.
- (intr) to give off or emit a strong unpleasant odour; smell or stink
- (intr often foll by of) to be permeated (by); be redolent (of)the letter reeks of subservience
- (tr) to treat with smoke; fumigate
- (tr) mainly dialect to give off or emit (smoke, fumes, vapour, etc)
- a strong offensive smell; stink
- mainly dialect smoke or steam; vapour
Old English rec (Anglian), riec (West Saxon), “smoke from burning material,” probably from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Norse reykr, Danish rǿg, Swedish rök “smoke, steam,” from Proto-Germanic *raukiz (cf. Old Frisian rek, Middle Dutch rooc, Old High German rouh, German Rauch “smoke, steam”), from PIE *reug- “to vomit, belch;” also “smoke, cloud.” Sense of “stench” is attested 1650s, via the notion of “that which rises” (cf. reek (v.)).
Old English recan (Anglian), reocan (West Saxon) “emit smoke,” from Proto-Germanic *reukanan (cf. Old Frisian reka “smoke,” Middle Dutch roken, Dutch rieken “to smoke,” Old High German riohhan “to smoke, steam,” German rauchen “to smoke,” riechen “to smell”).
Originally a strong verb, with past tense reac, past participle gereocen, but occasionally showing weak conjugation in Old English. Meaning “to emit smoke;” meaning “to emit a bad smell” is recorded from 1710 via sense “be heated and perspiring” (early 15c.). Related: Reeked; reeking.