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What’s That Sillage?

What’s that smell? No, not the stuff in the silo (silage)—that distinct odor of fermenting corn or hay—but that lovely, faint, lingering scent …

sillage

Pronunciation:
[sil-ij]

(n.) the scent that lingers in air, the trail left in water, the impression made in space after something or someone has been and gone; the trace of someone’s perfume.

Origin:
French, literally, wake/trail

A poetical word, to be sure, when romancing over a love long-gone.

But perhaps you find sillage in other places and spaces …

… like when you pull up in your car to pick up your children from school and they sense the lingering aroma of the cheeseburger you wolfed down a moment earlier. Suspicion arises.

That kind of sillage … not so poetical.

Or when you move into a new house and smell the persistent bouquet of a woman’s perfume. But only at midnight. On Halloween.

Thanks to that type of sillage, you now know to pack up and move once again.

How about the sillage of your grandmother’s hand lotion, your dad’s motor oil, or the scent of a new baby’s scalp?

Only the nose knows.

Photo by Angela Andriot via Wikimedia Commons

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