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. adjective
    covered with or smelling of mold
    synonyms: moldy, mouldy
    lacking freshness, palatability, or showing deterioration from age
  2. adjective
    stale and unclean smelling
    synonyms: frowsty, fusty
    ill-smelling, malodorous, malodourous, stinky, unpleasant-smelling
    having an unpleasant smell
Word Family