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dunst

noun;
an indescribably bad stench, the worst smell one will ever smell in their life For one to say they might have smelled their dunst implies that they could not imagine ever smelling anything worse. This word was borrowed from Dutch, then had a drastic semantic shift. The person who originally introduced me to this word claimed that dunst is a Dutch word for unspeakable stench. This is partially true; it is a Dutch word, but it means ‘thinnest.’ I cannot even speculate how one could change a borrowed word’s meaning so drastically. Perhaps the word was chosen without the knowledge that it was a Dutch word at all, then later discovered the word preexisted in another language. Another possibility is that they discovered the existence of the word dunst but not its meaning. For some reason, the speaker decided the word would fit nicely to describe this smell they were having difficulty quantifying. It really is too difficult to say with certainty. From one perspective, this word was coined to describe a smell that is beyond words. However, this presents a sort of paradox because the smell is no longer unspeakable; it now does have a word to describe its intensity. Whether or not the very description of the smell lessens its gravity, the word dunst does serve to describe a previously unspeakable smell, regardless of how that status may change afterward.
 
I think I smelled my dunst today.
Etymology : Dutch dunst ‘thinnest’
Source : a dinner conversation
Last modified: 10 June 2008


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