sniff ( sniffs plural & 3rd person present) ( sniffing present participle) ( sniffed past tense & past participle )
1 verb When you sniff, you breathe in air through your nose hard enough to make a sound, for example when you are trying not to cry, or in order to show disapproval.
She wiped her face and sniffed loudly... V
Then he sniffed. There was a smell of burning... V
He sniffed back the tears. V n with adv
Sniff is also a noun., n-count
At last the sobs ceased, to be replaced by sniffs.
2 verb If you sniff something or sniff at it, you smell it by sniffing.
Suddenly, he stopped and sniffed the air... V n
She sniffed at it suspiciously. V at n
3 verb You can use sniff to indicate that someone says something in a way that shows their disapproval or contempt.
`Tourists!' she sniffed. V with quote
4 verb If you say that something is not to be sniffed at, you think it is very good or worth having. If someone sniffs at something, they do not think it is good enough, or they express their contempt for it.
usu passive, usu with brd-neg
The salary was not to be sniffed at either... be V-ed at
Foreign Office sources sniffed at reports that British troops might be sent. V at n
5 verb If someone sniffs a substance such as glue, they deliberately breathe in the substance or the gases from it as a drug.
He felt light-headed, as if he'd sniffed glue. V n
sniffer ( sniffers plural) n-count
...teenage glue sniffers.
6 n-sing If you get a sniffof something, you learn or guess that it might be happening or might be near.
INFORMAL usu N of n
You know what they'll be like if they get a sniff of a murder investigation..., Have the Press got a sniff yet?..., Then, at the first sniff of danger, he was back at his post. sniff around
in BRIT, also use sniff about, sniff round
1 phrasal verb If a person is sniffing around, they are trying to find out information about something, especially information that someone else does not want known.
But really, what harm could it possibly do to pop down there and just sniff around?... V P
A couple of plain-clothes men had been sniffing round his apartment. V P n
2 phrasal verb If a person or organization is sniffing around someone, they are trying to get them, for example as a lover, employee, or client.
INFORMAL no passive
When I had to go away to university, I was convinced that other men would be sniffing round her... V P n sniff out
1 phrasal verb If you sniff out something, you discover it after some searching.
INFORMAL ...journalists who are trained to sniff out sensation or scandal. V P n (not pron)
2 phrasal verb When a dog used by a group such as the police sniffs out hidden explosives or drugs, it finds them using its sense of smell.
A police dog, trained to sniff out explosives, found evidence of a bomb in the apartment. V P n (not pron), Also V n P sniff round