The inability of our language to fully capture the nuances of scents can be very frustrating. We associate scents with something – a place, a memory, a flavor – but most people struggle to describe smell on its own terms. Perfumers and professional fragrance evaluators overcome some of the communication issues by being trained to use specific terms to define fragrances. Often this language finds its way to press releases and perfume counters, but lacking an explanation, it is often meaningless. Who would ever guess that “aromatic” in perfumery parlance means green, camphorous, herbal notes, as opposed to “having an aroma,” as a dictionary would define it? Or how would one define balsamic, aldehydic and floralcy?
A few months ago we chatted about the terms we found confusing, and based on that discussion I made a list of common terms and perfume descriptors. This list is constantly updated, and for more information on a specific term, please click on the link associated with it. Please feel free to suggest other terms to add.