Which perfume makes you sick?

Beguiling scent and the stench of hell

Our nose houses 30 million olfactory cells in around 400 variants. Each of these cells can perceive a certain smell, a certain aroma. When it does, the cell sends a chemical signal to the brain. There, in a protrusion of the brain, the so-called olfactory bulb, these olfactory impressions are collected and distributed in the brain. This is how our olfactory sensations arise.

Scent or smell?

Flowers often smell seductive

A person who trains his sense of smell can distinguish several thousand smells. There are “flowery smells” like jasmine, rose or the scent most commonly used in perfumes: lily of the valley. There are “spicy smells” such as cinnamon or cloves, but also “fruity”, “green”, “woody”, “resinous”, “animal” and “earthy” smells. Sweat and feces belong to the "animal", ie animal smells, although these naturally occur in humans as well.

Whether we perceive something as “fragrant” or “fragrant”, or whether a smell, which is then called “stench”, causes nausea or even vomiting in us is surprisingly not innate. Toddlers under the age of three have no problem playing with their feces at all. The disgust for it is largely trained.

Smell and feel

Dogs have a better sense of smell than humans and are therefore in demand as sniffers

But not everything that concerns the sense of smell, the “olfactory”, has been learned. The language knows that, of course. That is why the word "feel" means "smell" and "feel" at the same time. By the way: long before we consciously recognize an odor, we have already rated it. That is why the sense of smell is often compared to the animal instinct. Incidentally, it is called "weathering" among animals.

Like the animals - well at least a little - we sense whether danger is lurking. We can tell by the “smell of mold” whether a food is spoiled, and although this has not yet been fully proven, we also seem to ultimately choose a partner based on the smell. It also means that two partners must “be able to smell each other”.

That stinks to heaven

This gentleman stinks a lot

The unpleasant variant of the smell, the "stench", sometimes also "stink", has produced far more idioms than its pleasant opposite, the "scent". If “something stinks” to me, then it bothers me a lot.

If “something stinks to heaven”, then it is “evil” even if someone is still trying to cover it up. An unpleasant contemporary is a "stink boot" or a "stinker", sometimes also a "skunk". One thing that "stinks three miles against the wind" is obviously bad, and people like to say that "self-praise" stinks "stinks".

Better increase with feces

The word "stinky" is actually a contradiction in terms. Those who are distinguished are educated, well-educated and wealthy - and accordingly probably well washed. But the prefix “stink-” stands for a kind of ironic, derogatory increase. They also exist in a similar function with the words "stinking rich", "stinknormal", "stinkfer" or "stinklafaul".

It sleeps up to 20 hours a day and lives up to its name: the sloth

In the dictionary of the Brothers Grimm you could already read 200 years ago that the word "lazy" is derived from "stinking lazy", meaning someone who is so lazy that he stinks because he is probably too lazy to shut up his body care for. However, because affirmation with fecal expressions is so beautifully drastic, “stink” has taken on a life of its own and now only means something like “special” or “very”. We also know this from other fecal words such as "arschkalt" or "shit doesn't care".

Perfume and pheromones

Humanity has been perfuming itself for thousands of years

If you stink, you turn away. But whoever smells smells draws people to it. “Perfume” - or, as a foreign word, “perfume” - has been around for several thousand years. Incense, fragrant ointments and scented waters were produced in India and ancient Egypt in particular. They served spiritual purposes, but also to create a positive impression, for example, with the opposite sex.

It took until well into modern times until “eau de toilette” and “perfume”, scented waters with different concentrations of fragrances, came to Europe. The scents from the perfumery always smell pleasant. However, it has not yet been proven whether they also work directly as an attractant, as the so-called "pheromones" do in animals. The elixir of love that beguiles the chosen one or the chosen one has not been invented to this day. But at least we almost all smell good now - and luckily the days of the “underground” or “hellish stench” are over.