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- foul-smelling or noxious, particularly of a gas or atmosphere.
- 1874, Marcus Clarke, chapter V, in For the Term of His Natural Life:
- It is impossible to convey, in words, any idea of the hideous phantasmagoria of shifting limbs and faces which moved through the evil-smelling twilight of this terrible prison-house. Callot might have drawn it, Dante might have suggested it, but a minute attempt to describe its horrors would but disgust. There are depths in humanity which one cannot explore, as there are mephitic caverns into which one dare not penetrate.
- 1996, Janette Turner Hospital, Oyster, paperback edition, Virago Press, page 3:
- More than that, perhaps the worst thing, was a sort of mephitic fog, moistureless and invisible, that came and went like an exhalation of the arid earth itself.