What Does Fear Smell Like?

What it is: You have probably heard it being spoken about that animals and people can “smell fear” on people.  Is it a six sense orwhat does fear smell like is it real?

What it smells like:  No one ever seems to be able to describe exactly what fear smells like, though and that leads one to think that the smell of fear is more metaphorical than literal.

However science has come to the rescue and evidence suggests that fear might really have a chemical component that we sense through our noses without even realizing it.

Animals for example, have an organ called the vomeronasal organ which is generally located near the soft palate (its precise location can differ depending on the animal). It is used specifically to “smell” hormones and pheromones (chemicals) in our bodies that cause happiness, sadness, fear, panic, anger etc.  The argument goes then that by sensing this and interpreting them, animals can understand our feelings.

Others believe that domesticated animals, like dogs see your emotions such as when you cry, and they know your sad because you cry sounds like a dog whine and when you scared you might hide just like a dog would.

So, does fear really have a smell?  Is it acrid, sweaty and sharp?



  1. Trishie says:

    Yes, fear has a smell. I have smelt it twice. It is distinctive and you will never forget it. It smells faintly like the ammonia that sometimes comes with passing stools. If it had a colour it would be bile yellow. It is a deep, low onion crossed with stale beer scent. If you could make a yellow liquid that gave off a green gas and made it smell faintly of onions and stale beer you would be getting close.

  2. Trashie says:

    No, no, no… Trishie is all wrong. I have smelled fear THREE times, and it smells like cinnamon toast mixed with a fishy, seafood smell. It’s not yellow green, but pinkish brown. Duh.

  3. Jet Black says:

    It’s kind of like the burn of smoke in your throat and nose mixed with the smell of surfer. I’ve always been able to smell it pretty acutely and, let me tell you, finals week in high school, not pleasant!

  4. Nicki says:

    I have smelt it before and it is dificult to describe but the best way I can is sort of like pungent spicey oranges but not in a nice way, kind of gross smelling.

  5. Sulphur says:

    No; I get a different smell than you guys. To me, pure terror smells very strongly, almost like the smoking remains of a bonfire, with hints of pepper thrown in.
    Also, mild fear (the kind you get when the teacher calls you up to her desk) stinks like sour, spoiled milk, with maybe a little sometching else I can’t quite put my finger on… Something very spicy or strong, like cracked pepper, perhaps?
    So I guess it’s safe to say that fear has a reek of pepper to me, although it seems like the scent differs between people.

  6. Blossom says:

    I just watched an episode of law and order that came out in 2015 they claimed on the show , the medical examiner said it smells like ammonia..

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