The Difference Between

What is the difference between 'smelled' and 'smelt'?

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January 26, 2011 9:08PM

Smelled and Smelt

In 'American' English, 'smelled' only is the past tense of 'smell': " while outside I smelled a foul odor "

"Smelt" IS the past tense of smell due to the fact that "smell", not to be confused with (to smell) is originally an irregular verb, therefor needing a change in spelling, but however, is in the process of changing into a regular verb, due to the changing status of a growing language solely hypothesized on its grammatical miss-use of ending in "ed" along with many other miss used past tense vocab. where "smelt" is correct, both are socially acceptable.


In British English, 'smelt' and 'smelled' are interchangeable as the past participle of 'smell', with 'smelt' being more common in current use.

'To smelt' is, of course, also a verb meaning 'to melt or fuse metal ore'.

Also, Smelt is a family, Osmeridae, of small anadromous fish. They are common in the North American Great Lakes, and run in large schools along the coastline during their spring migration to their spawning streams. The family consists of some sixteen species in six genera.

The fish usually reach only 6 inches (15 cm) and are a food source for salmon and lake trout.

Common pronunciation of 'smelled' in phonic "smelt"