A Word A Day : Noisome

Thursday, 8th May 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Adjective )

Pronunciation : nóy-ssem


1. so offensive, especially to the senses, as to arouse feelings of disgust or repulsion

2. offensive to the point of arousing disgust

3. having an unpleasant odor

Usage : Noisome & Noxious. These words have to a great extent been interchanged; but there is a tendency to make a distinction between them, applying noxious to things that inflict evil directly; as, a noxious plant, noxious practices, etc., and noisome to things that operate with a remoter influence; as, noisome vapors, a noisome pestilence, etc. Noisome has the additional sense of disqusting. A garden may be free from noxious weeds or animals; but, if recently covered with manure, it may be filled with a noisome smell.


Middle English noiesom : noie, harm (short for anoi, annoyance, from Old French, from anoier, to annoy


fetid, foul, foul-smelling, malodorous, mephitic, reeky, stinking, immoral, bad, offensive


good, just, moral, upright

Contextual Examples:

• The body politic produces noisome and unseemly substances, among which are politicians.

• The first flower to bloom in this latitude, when the winter frost loosens its grip upon the sod, is not the fragrant arbutus, nor the delicate hepatica, nor the waxen bloodroot, as the poets would have us think, but the gross, uncouth, and noisome skunk cabbage.

• The most dangerous season was after the rice and indigo harvests in August and September when the waters were 'low, stagnant and corrupt' and the air made noisome with indigo plants hauled out of the water and left to rot in the fields.

• Within that noisome den from which I had emerged I had thought with a narrow intensity only of our immediate security.

• As the light sank into the noisome depths, there came a shriek which chilled Adam's blood--a prolonged agony of pain and terror which seemed to have no end.

Related Words:

noisomeness : Noun

noisomely : Adverb

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