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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English rek, reke (smoke), from Old English rēc, rīec, from Proto-Germanic *raukiz (compare West Frisian reek, riik, Dutch rook, Low German Röök, German Rauch, Danish røg, Norwegian Bokmål røyk), from Proto-Indo-European *rowgi- (compare Lithuanian rū̃kti (to smoke), rū̃kas (smoke, fog), Albanian regj (to tan)).[1]


reek (countable and uncountable, plural reeks)

  1. A strong unpleasant smell.
  2. Vapour; steam; smoke; fume.
    • 1623, William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor
      Thou mightst as well say, I loue to walke by the
      Counter-gate, which is as hatefull to me, as the reeke of
      a Lime-kill.
    • Helenore; or, the fortunate Shepherdess: a Poem in the Broad Scoth Dialect, Alexander Ross (poet), 1768:
      Now, by this time, the sun begins to leam,
      And lit the hill-heads with his morning beam;
      And birds, and beasts, and folk to be a-steer,
      And clouds o’ reek frae lum heads to appear.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English reken (to smoke), from Old English rēocan, from Proto-Germanic *reukaną (compare Dutch ruiken, Low German rüken, German riechen, Danish ryge, Swedish ryka), from Proto-Indo-European *rougi-. See above.


reek (third-person singular simple present reeks, present participle reeking, simple past and past participle reeked)

  1. (archaic, intransitive) To be emitted or exhaled, emanate, as of vapour or perfume.
  2. To have or give off a strong, unpleasant smell.
    You reek of perfume.
    Your fridge reeks of egg.
  3. (figuratively) To be evidently associated with something unpleasant.
    The boss appointing his nephew as a director reeks of nepotism.

Etymology 3[edit]

Probably a transferred use (after Irish cruach stack (of corn), pile, mountain, hill) of a variant of rick (with which it is cognate).


reek (plural reeks)

  1. (Ireland) A hill; a mountain.


  • A Dictionary of North East Dialect, Bill Griffiths, 2005, Northumbria University Press, →ISBN
  • Northumberland Words, English Dialect Society, R. Oliver Heslop, 1893–4
  • A List of words and phrases in everyday use by the natives of Hetton-le-Hole in the County of Durham, F.M.T.Palgrave, English Dialect Society vol.74, 1896, [1]
  • The New Geordie Dictionary, Frank Graham, 1987, →ISBN
  • Notes:
  1. ^ Vladimir Orel, A Handbook of Germanic Etymology, s.vv. “*raukiz”, “*reukanan”(Leiden: Brill, 2003), 299:303.




From Middle English rek, reke (smoke), from Old English rēc, rīec, from Proto-Germanic *raukiz.


reek (uncountable)

  1. reek


reek (third-person singular present reeks, present participle reekin, past reekt, past participle reekt)

  1. reek

West Frisian[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


From Old Frisian rēk, from Proto-Germanic *raukiz. Compare North Frisian reck, rieck, English reek, Danish rook, Low German Röök, German Rauch, Danish røg.


reek c

  1. smoke