The good smell that you experience once you get out of the car at a beach in wintertime. Would "the chilly smell of the sea" work? Or fresh / odor / some other words?

  • It's really difficult to describe smells - this article describing tips for describing the way something smells might help provide some inspiration: wikihow.com/Describe-a-Smell – ColleenV Dec 2 '16 at 17:10
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    "Cold salt-air", perhaps? – Mick Dec 2 '16 at 17:21
  • Junction your two words which describe it adequately using a hyphen, and use that as an invented word: "The chilly-fresh smell of the sea." Another strategy is to not describe it for what it is, or what it is like, but what it does or its effects. "The invigorating, rejuvenating smell of the sea ..." – LawrenceC Dec 2 '16 at 22:27

I'm not sure if this works with the smell so much but it's quite common to hear people refer to "Bracing sea air".

This emphasizes the coldness and add a bit of a harsh but refreshing or energizing feeling.

(of weather) cold and perhaps windy; (of an activity) making you feel full of energy because it is done outside when the weather is cold and perhaps windy:
We enjoyed a bracing walk on the beach.

Sea air is generally referred to smelling "briny" - which relates to the saltiness of it.

I don't know that we'd generally refer to a smell as "cold" in English. "Cold" doesn't have a smell.

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    "Crisp" has sort of a cold connotation. Apparently the cold tingles the same nerve that irritants like mint and onions do, so the same sorts of adjectives tend to apply to it. – ColleenV Dec 2 '16 at 17:24
  • I guess I've never thought of crisp as a smell. – Catija Dec 2 '16 at 17:24
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    It really isn't, but you can't really "smell" cold either. I'm trying to think if we have any "colors" for smell or if we always just talk about it as taste/smell together (briny) or as something that causes the smell (flowery). – ColleenV Dec 2 '16 at 17:37
  • @ColleenV Well, taste and smell are very closely related, right? If my understanding is correct, smell is part of taste. – Catija Dec 2 '16 at 20:10
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    Taste and smell are very closely tied. I read somewhere that without a sense of smell you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between chocolate and banana pudding. You would only be able to tell that it was sweet. (well and I guess you'd have to be blindfolded - color affects food taste as well apparently) – ColleenV Dec 2 '16 at 20:30

A lot of times the phrases "salt air" or "sea air" are used to describe the smell of the sea.

So I would suggest using one of those phrases with another adjective that describes the coldness of the air: like "crisp salt air" or "icy sea air".


Consider 'bracing' (MW)

giving strength, vigor, or freshness "a bracing breeze"


There is a whole book about sea air: sea-air and sea-bathing. It describes sea air in many ways, including briny and bracing, but my favourite is salutiferous.

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