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From Latin mephiticus, from mefitis, mephitis: : compare French méphitique.


mephitic (comparative more mephitic, superlative most mephitic)

  1. Foul-smelling or noxious, particularly of a gas or atmosphere.
    • 1842, [anonymous collaborator of Letitia Elizabeth Landon], chapter LXI, in Lady Anne Granard; or, Keeping up Appearances. [], volume III, London: Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC, pages 151–152:
      "I could have borne the sight of his crutch," said she, "but the crutch and the nephew together really oppress me like a mephitic vapour."
    • 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.
    • 1912, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World [], London, New York, N.Y.: Hodder and Stoughton, →OCLC:
      From this crawling flapping mass of obscene reptilian life came the shocking clamor which filled the air and the mephitic, horrible, musty odor which turned us sick.
    • 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.

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