musty

Use the word musty to describe an unclean, stale and possibly moldy smell. If something smells musty that means it’s probably been sitting in a damp corner without any air for a little too long.

Musty smells take time to develop: they’re caused by dampness and mold, and signal some amount of decay. You might also call the smell of a musty old basement rank or foul. But people also use musty to insult someone’s writing, or their ideas. A musty speech wouldn’t just be old-fashioned, it would be old in a bad way: rotten and boring.

Definitions of musty
1

adj covered with or smelling of mold

Synonyms:
moldy, mouldy
stale
lacking freshness, palatability, or showing deterioration from age

adj stale and unclean smelling

Synonyms:
frowsty, fusty
ill-smelling, malodorous, malodourous, stinky, unpleasant-smelling
having an unpleasant smell

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