Ask Difference

Scent vs. Sent — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Maham Liaqat — Published on May 25, 2024
"Scent" refers to a distinctive smell, while "sent" is the past tense of "send," indicating the action of causing something to go or be taken somewhere.
Scent vs. Sent — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Scent and Sent


Key Differences

"Scent" primarily deals with olfactory perceptions, signifying a smell or odor that can be pleasant or unpleasant. It's often used in contexts related to perfumes, nature, animals, and the inherent quality of objects to emit a particular odor. On the other hand, "sent" is concerned with the act of dispatching or transmitting something from one place to another. This term is versatile, applying to various forms of sending, including mailing letters, dispatching goods, or even sending messages electronically.
The usage of "scent" can extend metaphorically to suggest a hint or indication of something, as in "scenting trouble." This figurative use employs the concept of detecting or discovering something as one would detect a smell. Conversely, "sent" has a concrete application related to the action of transmission and does not commonly venture into metaphorical usage. Its function is straightforward, emphasizing the movement or delivery of items, information, or individuals from one location to another.
In terms of etymology, "scent" originates from the Middle English "scenten," which means to feel or perceive, ultimately derived from the Latin "sentire," meaning to feel or perceive by the senses. This historical background ties "scent" closely to sensory experience. "Sent," however, derives from the Old English "sendan," bearing the idea of sending or dispatching something, a concept that has remained consistent through the ages.
When discussing "scent," one may also delve into the science of olfaction, exploring how humans and animals perceive odors through complex sensory mechanisms. It opens discussions on how scents play roles in behavior, memory, and emotion. In contrast, discussing "sent" often leads to conversations about communication methods, logistics, and the technological advances that have facilitated faster, more efficient ways of sending information and goods globally.
The distinction between "scent" and "sent" highlights not only the differences in their meanings but also their roles in language as homophones—words that sound alike but have different meanings and spellings. This aspect of English emphasizes the importance of context in understanding and using these terms correctly, whether in spoken or written form.

Comparison Chart


A distinctive smell, often pleasant.
The past tense of "send," referring to the act of dispatching or transmitting.


Related to olfactory experiences, perfumes, nature.
Related to the action of mailing, dispatching goods, conveying information.


Describes odors, can be metaphorical for a hint of something.
Describes the action of causing something to go from one place to another.


From Middle English "scenten," Latin "sentire" (to feel, perceive).
From Old English "sendan" (to send).


In discussions of olfaction, emotions tied to smells, perfumery.
In discussions of communication, logistics, technology for sending.

Compare with Definitions


A distinctive smell, especially a pleasant one.
The scent of roses filled the garden.


Dispatched or transmitted from one place to another.
The package was sent yesterday.


A perfume or cologne.
She wore a light floral scent.


To cause to go or to be taken to a destination.
She was sent on a business trip.


A trace of something detected.
The detective picked up the scent of the suspect.


Caused to be directed or aimed at a target.
He sent the ball flying towards the goal.


To perceive or identify by the sense of smell.
Dogs can scent prey from miles away.


To order or instruct to go.
The general sent troops into battle.


An indication or suggestion of something.
There was a scent of panic in the air.


To emit or discharge.
The volcano sent ash into the sky.


A distinctive, often agreeable odor.


Simple past tense and past participle of send


A perfume
An expensive French scent.


Caused or enabled to go or be conveyed or transmitted


The sense of smell
A bear's keen scent.


To have a smell; (figuratively) to give an impression (of something).


That which, issuing from a body, affects the olfactory organs of animals; odor; smell; as, the scent of an orange, or of a rose; the scent of musk.
With lavish hand diffuses scents ambrosial.


An odor left in passing by which a person or animal can be traced


Apply perfume to;
She perfumes herself every day

Common Curiosities

Is "sent" only used for physical items?

No, it can refer to sending anything, including messages, emails, or even directing people to a location.

How do animals use scent?

Animals use scent for communication, navigation, detecting food or predators, and marking territory.

What technologies have impacted how things are "sent"?

Email, instant messaging, and logistics advancements like drones and electronic tracking have revolutionized sending items and information.

What is the difference between "scent" and "sent"?

"Scent" refers to a smell, often pleasant, while "sent" is the past tense of "send," indicating the act of dispatching something.

Can "scent" have a negative connotation?

Yes, it can describe unpleasant odors as well, not just pleasant smells.

How has the meaning of "sent" evolved with digital communication?

It now broadly encompasses sending digital information, not just physical items.

Can "scent" be used in a non-olfactory context?

Yes, metaphorically, it can suggest a hint or trace of something, as in "scenting trouble."

Why is understanding the difference between "scent" and "sent" important?

Since they are homophones, understanding their distinct meanings ensures accurate communication and writing.

Are there cultural differences in the use of scents?

Yes, perceptions and uses of scents vary widely across cultures, influencing perfumery, cuisine, and rituals.

What role does "sent" play in business and commerce?

It's crucial for logistics, order fulfillment, and communication within and between businesses.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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