- (Especially of a gas or vapor) Foul-smelling; noxious.
“The cleaning chemicals left a mephitic smell in the hallway for a few hours.”
“All of the students received a safety lecture before chemistry class, because many of the solutions were mephitic if handled incorrectly.”
“Be careful not to mix bleach and ammonia, or you’ll create a mephitic gas.”
Latin, early 17th century
Why this word?
“Mephitic” is an adjective that most often applies to a foul-smelling gas or vapor. “Noxious” is also an adjective, but it’s used within the definition of “mephitic.” It means “harmful or unpleasant,” and it could describe a substance, or even a person. These adjectives are all about the shades of meaning. That bothersome person who takes credit for your work could be described as noxious, but if she also wears way too much perfume, she’s mephitic.
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