[‘An organic compound with a strong earthy scent and flavour, produced especially by various microorganisms and largely responsible for the smell of damp soil.’]
Pronunciation: Brit. /dʒɪˈɒzmɪn/, U.S. /dʒiˈɑzmən/
Origin: A borrowing from Greek, combined with an English element.
Etymons: Greek γῆ, ὀσμή, -in suffix1.
Etymology: < ancient Greek γῆ (see geo- comb. form) + ὀσμή odour (see osmo- comb. form1) + -in suffix1.
An organic compound with a strong earthy scent and flavour, produced especially by various microorganisms and largely responsible for the smell of damp soil.
Geosmin is a bicyclic alcohol derived from decahydronaphthalene.
1965 N. N. Gerber & H. A. Lechevalier in Appl. Microbiol. 13 935/2 Our study shows that one specific compound having an earthy odour can be found among the metabolites of numerous actinomycetes. The physical properties of this compound, geosmin (from the Greek ‘ge’ = earth and ‘osme’ = odor) have been determined.
1998 P.A. Payne et al. in F. Colin & P. Quevauviller Monitoring of Water Quality 151 The human nose is exquisitely sensitive to certain of the potential contaminants of drinking water. A good example of this is geosmin, for which a typical sensitivity for the human nose is below 10 parts per trillion.
2006 Sydney Morning Herald 18 Nov. (Spectrum section) 23/5 The smell after rain on a hot day is caused by a chemical called geosmin, which earth releases once it has been wetted.
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