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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English smoky, smokie, equivalent to smoke +‎ -y.


  • (US) enPR: smō'kē, IPA(key): /ˈsmoʊki/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -əʊki


smoky (comparative smokier, superlative smokiest)

  1. Filled with smoke.
    a smoky cabin
    • 1608, Thomas Dekker, The Belman of London, London: Nathaniell Butter,[2]
      Some sate turning of spits, and the place being all smoaky, made me thinke on hell, for the ioynts of meat lay as if they had bene broyling in the infernall fier []
    • 1624, Richard Pots; William Tankard; G. P.; William Simons, compiler, “Chap. VIII. Captaine Smiths Iourney to Pamavnkee.”, in John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles: [], London: [] I[ohn] D[awson] and I[ohn] H[aviland] for Michael Sparkes, OCLC 1049014009, book 3; reprinted in The Generall Historie of Virginia, [...] (Bibliotheca Americana), Cleveland, Oh.: The World Publishing Company, 1966, OCLC 633956660, page 74:
      [We] never had better fires in England, then in the dry, ſmoaky houſes of Kecoughtan: []
    • 1775, Samuel Jackson Pratt, Liberal Opinions, upon Animals, Man, and Providence, London: G. Robinson and J. Bew, Volume 2, “A Moral, and Sentimental Excursion,” p. 143,[3]
      [] even the smoky air of one of the most smoky streets of the suburbs is chearful, and salubrious, to the oppression I felt in the chamber we have just left []
    • 1819, Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Peter Bell the Third,” Part 3, in The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, London: Edward Moxon, 1839, p. 240,[4]
      Hell is a city much like London—
      A populous and a smoky city;
    1. Filled with or enveloped in tobacco smoke.
      a smoky bar
      • 1930, Langston Hughes, Not Without Laughter, New York: Scribner, 1995, Chapter 20, p. 214,[5]
        “Say, little coon, let’s see you hit a step for the boys! []
        “I can’t,” Sandy said, frowning instead of smiling, and growing warm as he stood there in the smoky circle of grinning white men. “I don’t know how to dance.”
      • 1974, John le Carré, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, London: Pan Books, 1975, Part 2, Chapter 17, p. 134,[6]
        In the evenings he argued the toss at smoky meetings in pubs and school halls.
  2. Giving off smoke.
    a smoky oil lamp
    • c. 1604–1605, William Shakespeare, “All’s VVell, that Ends VVell”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene ii]:
      [] is it I
      That drive thee from the sportive court, where thou
      Wast shot at with fair eyes, to be the mark
      Of smoky muskets?
    • 1894, George Santayana, Sonnet, in Sonnets and Other Verses, Cambridge, MA: Stone and Kimball, p. 5,[7]
      Our knowledge is a torch of smoky pine
      That lights the pathway but one step ahead
      Across a void of mystery and dread.
    • 2013 August 3, “Yesterday’s fuel”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8847:
      The dawn of the oil age was fairly recent. Although the stuff was used to waterproof boats in the Middle East 6,000 years ago, extracting it in earnest began only in 1859 after an oil strike in Pennsylvania. [] It was used to make kerosene, the main fuel for artificial lighting after overfishing led to a shortage of whale blubber. Other liquids produced in the refining process, too unstable or smoky for lamplight, were burned or dumped.
  3. Of a colour or colour pattern similar to that of smoke.
    • 1658, Edward Topsell, The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents, London: G. Sawbridge et al., Book 2, Chapter 12, p. 1059,[8]
      The Pismire kinde of Aetius hath a smoky body, an ash-coloured neck, and the back as it were adorned with stars.
    • 1795, Ann Radcliffe, A Journey Made in the Summer of 1794, through Holland and the Western Frontier of Germany, London: G.G. and J. Robinson, “Metz,” p. 179,[9]
      [] the broken walls and roofs were distinguishable even at that distance, and sometimes a part, which had been repaired, contrasted its colour with the black and smoky hues of the remainder.
    • 1879, Robert Louis Stevenson, “Across the Plains: Leaves from the Notebook of an Emigrant between New York and San Francisco”, in Across the Plains: With Other Memories and Essays, London: Chatto & Windus, [], published 1892, OCLC 702351883, page 9:
      There is more clear gold and scarlet in our old country mornings; more purple, brown, and smoky orange in those of the new.
    • 2014, Janet Mock, Redefining Realness:
      The saleswomen, with their all-black ensembles and smoky eyelids, were as open and affirming as the sight of RuPaul's spread legs in the Viva Glam lipstick ads.
  4. Having a flavour or odour like smoke; flavoured with smoke.
    a smoky whisky
    • c. 1551, Thomas Beccon, A Fruitful Treatise of Fasting, London: John Day, Chapter 9,[10]
      [] thei abstain from a smoky peace of Bacon or hard salted and poudred biefe or suche lyke []
    • 1796, J[ohn] G[abriel] Stedman, chapter XXX, in Narrative of a Five Years’ Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, in Guiana, on the Wild Coast of South America; [], volume II, London: J[oseph] Johnson, [], and J. Edwards, [], OCLC 13966308, page 392:
      [S]ome Dutch officers complained that the ſoup was ſmoaky, and the beef was tough, we adventurers declared that we never had taſted a more delicious repaſt; [...]
    • 1990, Michael Cunningham, A Home at the End of the World, New York: Picador, 1998, Part 1, p. 84,[11]
      I smelled it the moment I entered—that sweet smoky reek.
  5. Resembling or composed of smoke.
    • 1594, William Shakespeare, Lvcrece (First Quarto), London: [] Richard Field, for Iohn Harrison, [], OCLC 236076664:
      And let thy mustie vapours march so thicke,
      That in their smoakie rankes, his smothred light
      May set at noone, and make perpetuall night.
    • 1854, Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Boston: Ticknor and Fields, “House-Warming,” p. 271,[12]
      [] I too gave notice to the various wild inhabitants of Walden vale, by a smoky streamer from my chimney, that I was awake.
    • 1914, James Stephens, The Demi-Gods, London: Macmillan, Book 4, Chapter 34, p. 293,[13]
      And now the sky was a bright sea sown with islands; they shrank and crumbled and drifted away, islands no more, but a multitude of plumes and flakes and smoky wreaths hastily scudding, for the sun had lifted his tranquil eye on the heavens []
    • 1922 February, James Joyce, “[Episode 14: Oxen of the Sun]”, in Ulysses, London: The Egoist Press, published October 1922, OCLC 2297483, part II [Odyssey], page 381:
      He [the bull] had horns galore, a coat of gold and a sweet smoky breath coming out of his nostrils []
  6. Blackened by smoke.
  7. (of a person's voice) Having a deep, raspy quality, often as a result of smoking tobacco.
    • 1834, William Harrison Ainsworth, Rookwood, London: Richard Bentley, Volume 3, Chapter 5, p. 298,[14]
      “Stop the York four-day stage!” said he, forcing his smoky voice through a world of throat-embracing shawl []
    • 1973, Patrick White, The Eye of the Storm, New York: Viking, Chapter 10, p. 506,[15]
      Father laughed his smoky laugh. [] The smoky laughter like a bridge between them over your head.
  8. Attractive in a sensual way; sultry.
    • 1988, Don DeLillo, Libra, Penguin, 1989, Part 1, “20 May,” p. 124,[16]
      There was still that smoky little thing about her. The sexy swaying walk, the dark voice.
    • 2003, Lionel Shriver, We Need to Talk About Kevin, London: Serpent’s Tail, “March 3, 2001,”[17]
      Frankly, I don’t think his smoky Armenian looks drew their attention so much as the languid elegance of his manner []
  9. (music) Having a dark, thick, bass sound.
    a few smoky jazz notes
    • 1962, Philip Larkin, “Billie’s Golden Years,” The Daily Telegraph, 17 October, 1962, republished in All What Jazz: A Record Diary, 1961—1971, New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1985, p. 73,[18]
      [] the sombre and magnificent Davis fronts both his Quartet and Gil Evans’s orchestra, pouring out a succession of smoky and sonorous solos []
    • 1981, Wole Soyinka, Aké: The Years of Childhood, New York: Vintage, 1983, Chapter 1, p. 1,[19]
      The organ took on a dark, smoky sonority at evening service, and there was no doubt that the organ was adapting its normal sounds to accompany God’s own sepulchral responses [] to those prayers that were offered to him.
    • 1988, Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, London: Pan Books, 1989, Chapter 11, pp. 90-91,[20]
      [] there emerged from the car a pair of the sort of legs which soundtrack editors are unable to see without needing to slap a smoky saxophone solo all over []
    • 1992, Toni Morrison, Jazz, New York: Plume, 1993, p. 67,[21]
      Then, just as the music, slow and smoky, loads up the air, his smile bright as ever, he wrinkles his nose and turns away.
  10. (obsolete) Giving off steam or vapour.
    • 1594, Thomas Kyd (translator), Cornelia (Cornélie) by Robert Garnier, London: Nicholas Ling and John Busbie, Act V,[22]
      He wrencht it [his sword] to the pommel through his sides,
      That fro the wound the smoky blood ran bubling,
      Where-with he staggred;
    • 1717, William Congreve (translator), “The Story of Orpheus and Eurydice” in Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Fifteen Books, translated by the most eminent hands, London: Jacob Tonson, p. 334,[23]
      Dark was the Path, and difficult, and steep,
      And thick with Vapours from the smoaky Deep.
  11. (obsolete) Obscuring or insubstantial like smoke.
    • 1534, Thomas More, The answere to the fyrst parte of the poysened booke, which a namelesse heretyke hath named the souper of the lorde, London, Preface,[24]
      [] to shewe them selfe playnely, to hate & deteste and abhorre vtterly, the pestylent contagyon of all suche smoky communycacyon.
    • 1581, James Bell (translator), Against Ierome Osorius Byshopp of Siluane in Portingall by Walter Haddon et al., London: John Daye, Book 3,[25]
      If besides vayne crakes of smoky speeches, ye shewe no demonstration of sounde proofe, why these bragges of yours should be true, let vs graunt your saying.
    • 1658, Richard Baxter, The Crucifying of the World by the Cross of Christ, London: Nevill Simmons, Preface,[26]
      [] scrambling with such distracted violence for the smoaky honours, the nominal wealth, the intoxicating pleasures of a few hasty daies []
  12. (obsolete) Suspicious; open to suspicion; jealous[1].
    • 1765, Samuel Foote, The Commissary, Act I, in The Works of Samuel Foote, London: George Robinson et al., 1799, Volume 2, p. 18,[27]
      [] this old brother of ours tho’ is smoky and shrewd, and tho’ an odd, a sensible fellow;

Derived terms[edit]




  1. ^ B.E. A New Dictionary of the Canting Crew, London: W. Hawes et al., 1699: “Smoky, c. Jealous.”[1]