smell test

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smell test (plural smell tests)

  1. (figurative) An informal method for determining whether something is authentic, credible, or ethical, by using one's common sense or sense of propriety.
    to pass the smell test
    • 1994 May 6, Todd Purdum, “New Yorkers in Congress at War With a Lawyer”, in New York Times, retrieved 8 Feb. 2009:
      It just doesn't pass the smell test. It just creates too many opportunities for cutting corners, doing unethical things and basically not telling the truth.
    • 2009 January 25, Harvey Araton, “Tear Down Stadium and Build Up the Bronx”, in New York Times[1]:
      These aren’t the first megadeals cut by politicians that do not pass the smell test, but nobody has been swindled like the Yankee Stadium community.
  2. An inspection of an object using the sense of smell, as for freshness of food.
    • 2006 October 25, Olivia Wu, “It's a hairy crab extravaganza”, in San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved 8 Feb. 2009:
      I give the smell test to many foods when I shop.
  3. (physiology) An assessment of a subject's ability to detect and distinguish odors.
    • 1990, K. A. Fackelmann, “Smokers Suffer from Impaired Smell”, in Science News, volume 137, number 9, page 134:
      Although scientists have yet to pin down any biological basis for cigarette smokers' impaired performance on the smell test, Doty says he suspects that certain chemicals in smoke . . . damage the olfactory receptor cells in the nose.



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