AskDefine | Define smoke

Dictionary Definition



1 a cloud of fine particles suspended in a gas [syn: fume]
2 a hot vapor containing fine particles of carbon being produced by combustion; "the fire produced a tower of black smoke that could be seen for miles" [syn: smoking]
3 an indication of some hidden activity; "with all that smoke there must be a fire somewhere"
4 something with no concrete substance; "his dreams all turned to smoke"; "it was just smoke and mirrors"
5 tobacco leaves that have been made into a cylinder [syn: roll of tobacco]
6 street names for marijuana [syn: pot, grass, green goddess, dope, weed, gage, sess, sens, skunk, locoweed, Mary Jane]
7 the act of smoking tobacco or other substances; "he went outside for a smoke"; "smoking stinks" [syn: smoking]
8 (baseball) a pitch thrown with maximum velocity; "he swung late on the fastball"; "he showed batters nothing but smoke" [syn: fastball, heater, hummer, bullet]


1 inhale and exhale smoke from cigarettes, cigars, pipes; "We never smoked marijuana"; "Do you smoke?"
2 emit a cloud of fine particles; "The chimney was fuming" [syn: fume]

User Contributed Dictionary



Old English smoca



  1. The visible vapor/vapour, gases, and fine particles given off by burning or smoldering material.
  2. colloquial countable A cigarette.
    Can I bum a smoke off you? I need to go buy some smokes.
  3. An instance of smoking a cigarette, cigar, etc.; the duration of this act.
    I'm going out for a smoke.
  4. uncountable figurative A fleeting illustion; something insubstantial, evanescent, unreal, transitory, or without result.
    The excitement behind the new candidate proved to be smoke.
  5. uncountable figurative Something used to obscure or conceal; an obscuring condition; see also smoke and mirrors.
    The smoke of controversy.
  6. A light grey colour/color tinted with blue.
    smoke colour:   
  7. military uncountable A particulate of solid or liquid particles dispersed into the air on the battlefield to degrade enemy ground or for aerial observation. Smoke has many uses--screening smoke, signaling smoke, smoke curtain, smoke haze, and smoke deception. Thus it is an artificial aerosol.
  8. (The Smoke) London
particles and vapour given off by burning material
an instance of smoking
  • Finnish: savut
  • Kurdish:
  • Russian: курение
slang: a cigarette
military: artificial smoke-like aerosol used on the battlefield
  • Finnish: savu, savuverho


  1. To inhale and exhale the smoke from a burning cigarette, cigar, pipe, etc.
    He's smoking his pipe.
  2. To inhale and exhale from a burning cigarette, and to engage in this act regularly or habitually.
    Do you smoke?
  3. To give off smoke.
    My old truck was still smoking even after the repairs.
  4. To preserve or prepare (food) for consumption by treating with smoke and low heat.
    You'll need to smoke the meat for several hours.
  5. To perform, e.g. music, energetically. Almost always in present participle form.
    The horn section was really smoking on that last tune.
  6. To kill, especially with a gun.
    He got smoked by the mob.

Derived terms


inhale and exhale smoke from a burning cigarette
inhale and exhale from a cigarette regularly
  • Arabic: (dáχχana)
  • Chinese: 吸煙, 吸烟 (xīyān)
  • Czech: kouřit
  • Dutch: roken, smoren
  • Estonian: suitsetama
  • Finnish: polttaa, tupakoida
  • French: fumer
  • German: rauchen
  • Greek: καπνίζω
  • Hebrew:
  • Hungarian: dohányzik
  • Italian: fumare
  • Japanese: 煙る (けむる, kemuru)
  • Korean: 담배피우다 (dambae-piuda)
  • Kurdish:
  • Polish: palić (fajkę, papierosa)
  • Portuguese: fumar
  • Russian: курить (kurít’)
  • Slovak: fajčiť
  • Spanish: fumar
  • Swedish: röka
  • Welsh: ysmygu
preserve or roast by treating with smoke
give off smoke


  1. Of the colour known as smoke.


of the colour known as smoke

Extensive Definition

For other uses, see Smoke (disambiguation).
Smoke is the collection of airborne solid and liquid particulates and gases emitted when a material undergoes combustion or pyrolysis, together with the quantity of air that is entrained or otherwise mixed into the mass. It is commonly an unwanted by-product of fires (including stoves, candles, oil lamps, and fireplaces), but may also be used for pest control (cf. fumigation), communication (smoke signals), defense (smoke-screen) or smoking (tobacco, marijuana, etc) or inhalation of other drugs. Smoke is sometimes used as a flavouring agent and preservative for various foodstuffs. Smoke is also sometimes a component of internal combustion engine exhaust gas, particularly diesel exhaust.
Smoke inhalation is the primary cause of death in victims of indoor fires. The smoke kills by a combination of thermal damage, poisoning and pulmonary irritation caused by carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and other combustion products.
Smoke particles are an aerosol (or mist) of solid particles and liquid droplets that are close to the ideal range of sizes for Mie scattering of visible light. This effect has been likened to three-dimensional textured privacy glass — a smoke cloud does not obstruct an image, but thoroughly scrambles it.

Chemical composition

The composition of smoke depends on the nature of the burning fuel and the conditions of combustion.
Fires with high availability of oxygen burn at high temperature and with small amount of smoke produced; the particles are mostly composed of ash, or with large temperature differences, of condensed aerosol of water. High temperature also leads to production of nitrogen oxides. Sulfur content yields sulfur dioxide. Carbon and hydrogen are almost completely oxidized to carbon dioxide and water. Fires burning with lack of oxygen produce a significantly wider palette of compounds, many of them toxic. Partial oxidation of carbon produces carbon monoxide, nitrogen-containing materials can yield hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, and nitrogen oxides. Content of halogens such as chlorine (eg. in polyvinyl chloride) or other halogens may lead to production of eg. hydrogen chloride, phosgene, dioxin, and chloromethane, bromomethane and other halocarbons.
Pyrolysis of burning material also results in production of a large amount of hydrocarbons, both aliphatic (methane, ethane, ethylene, acetylene) and aromatic (benzene and its derivates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; eg. benzo[a]pyrene, studied as a carcinogen, or retene), terpenes. Heterocyclic compounds may be also present. Heavier hydrocarbons may condense as tar. Presence of sulfur can lead to formation of eg. hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, sulfur dioxide, carbon disulfide, and thiols; especially thiols tend to get adsorbed on surfaces and produce a lingering odor even long after the fire. Partial oxidation of the released hydrocarbons yields in a wide palette of other compounds: aldehydes (eg. formaldehyde, acrolein, and furfural), ketones, alcohols (often aromatic, eg. phenol, guaiacol, syringol, catechol, and cresols), carboxylic acids (formic acid, acetic acid, etc.).
The visible particles in such smokes are most commonly composed of carbon (soot). Other particulates may be composed of drops of condensed tar, or solid particles of ash. The presence of metals in the fuel yields particles of metal oxides. Particles of inorganic salts may also be formed, eg. ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate. Many organic compounds, typically the aromatic hydrocarbons, may be also adsorbed on the surface of the solid particles.
Smoke emissions may contain characteristic trace elements. Vanadium is present in emissions from oil fired power plants and refineries; oil plants also emit some nickel. Coal combustion produces emissions containing aluminium, arsenic, chromium, cobalt, copper, mercury, selenium, and uranium.
Some components of smoke are characteristic of the combustion source. Guaiacol and its derivatives are products of pyrolysis of lignin and are characteristic of wood smoke; other markers are syringol and derivates, and other methoxy phenols. Retene, a product of pyrolysis of conifer trees, is an indicator of forest fires. Levoglucosan is a pyrolysis product of cellulose. Hardwood vs softwood smokes differ in the ratio of guaiacols/syringols. Markers for vehicle exhaust include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, hopanes, steranes, and specific nitroarenes (eg. 1-nitropyrene). The ratio of hopanes and steranes to elemental carbon can be used to distinguish between emissions of gasoline and diesel engines.

Dangers of smoke

Smoke from oxygen-deprived fires contains a significant concentration of compounds that are flammable. A cloud of smoke, in contact with atmospheric oxygen, therefore has the potential of being ignited - either by another open flame in the area, or by its own temperature. This leads to effects like backdraft and flashover.
Many compounds of smoke from fires are highly toxic and/or irritating. The most dangerous is the carbon monoxide, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning, sometimes with supporting effects of hydrogen cyanide and phosgene. Smoke inhalation can therefore quickly lead to incapacitation and loss of consciousness.
Smoke can obscure visibility, impeding occupant exiting from fire areas. In fact, the poor visibility due to the smoke that was in the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire in Worcester, Massachusetts was the exact reason why the trapped rescue firefighters couldn't evacuate the building in time. Due to the striking similarity that each floor shared, the dense smoke caused the firefighters to become disoriented.

Visible and invisible particles of combustion

Depending on particle size, smoke can be visible or invisible to the naked eye. This is best illustrated when toasting bread in a toaster. As the bread heats up, the products of combustion increase in size. The particles produced initially are invisible but become visible if the toast is burnt.
Smoke from a typical house fire contains hundreds of different chemicals and fumes. As a result, the damage caused by the smoke can often exceed that caused by the actual heat of the fire. In addition to the physical damage caused by the smoke of a fire - which manifests itself in the form of stains - is the often even harder to eliminate problem of a smokey odor. Just as there are contractors that specialize in rebuilding/repairing homes that have been damaged by fire and smoke, Fabric Restoration companies specialize in restoring fabrics that have been damaged in a fire.

Medicinal Smoke

Throughout recorded history, humans have used the smoke of medicinal plants to cure illness. A sculpture from Persepolis shows Darius the Great (522–486 b.c.), the king of Persia, with two censers in front of him for burning Peganum harmala and/or sandalwood Santalum album, which was believed to protect the king from evil and disease. More than 300 plant species in 5 continents are used in smoke form for different diseases. As a method of drug administration, smoking is important as it is a simple, inexpensive, but very effective method of extracting particles containing active agents. More importantly, generating smoke reduces the particle size to a microscopic scale thereby increasing the absorption of its active chemical principles. However, the hazards of inhaling a particulate are unacceptable to some people. Although the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes has been recorded for centuries, it has only recently become a subject of intense public scrutiny. So far, only a few examples of medicinal smoke have been studied in detail (e.g. cannabis). Smoke-based medicinal substances represent multiple opportunities for studies on the chemical constituents, applications, and introduction and preparation of new drugs and dosage forms.
smoke in Arabic: الدخان
smoke in Guarani: Tatatĩ
smoke in Aymara: Jiwq'i
smoke in Catalan: Fum
smoke in Czech: Kouř
smoke in German: Rauch
smoke in Spanish: Humo
smoke in Esperanto: Fumo
smoke in French: Fumée
smoke in Galician: Fume
smoke in Croatian: Dim
smoke in Indonesian: Asap
smoke in Italian: Fumo
smoke in Hebrew: עשן
smoke in Lithuanian: Dūmai
smoke in Hungarian: Füst
smoke in Dutch: Rook
smoke in Japanese: 煙
smoke in Norwegian: Røyk
smoke in Polish: Dym
smoke in Portuguese: Fumo
smoke in Russian: Дым
smoke in Simple English: Smoke
smoke in Serbian: Дим
smoke in Serbo-Croatian: Dim
smoke in Finnish: Savu
smoke in Swedish: Rök
smoke in Turkish: Duman
smoke in Chinese: 煙

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

aerate, aerify, afterdamp, air, air-dry, airy nothing, anhydrate, ash, ashes, atomize, attaint, bake, be livid, be pissed, becloud, bedarken, bedaub, befog, begrime, bemire, bemist, bemud, besmear, besmirch, besmoke, bestain, black, blackdamp, blacken, blackwash, blast-freeze, blot, blotch, blow, blur, bluster, boil, brand, breath, breathe out, brine, browned off, brush, bubble, bucket, bullet, burn, butt, calx, carbon, carbonate, carry on, chafe, chain-smoke, charcoal, chaw, chew, chewing, chlorinate, chokedamp, cinder, clabber up, clinker, cloud, cloud over, cloud up, coal, coke, coom, cork, corn, crow, cure, damp, darken, darken over, daub, dehumidify, dehydrate, denigrate, desiccate, dinge, dirt, dirty, dirty up, discolor, distill, drag, drain, draw, dross, dry, dry-cure, dry-salt, dust, ebon, ebonize, ebony, effluvium, embalm, emit, encloud, enmist, ephemera, ephemeral, ephemerid, ephemerides, ephemeris, ether, etherify, etherize, evacuate, evaporate, exhalation, exhale, exhaust, expire, exsiccate, fag, fetid air, fire, firedamp, flatus, fluid, fluidize, fly, fog, fractionate, freeze, freeze-dry, fret, fume, fumigate, gasify, give off, give out, give vent to, go on, grime, habitual smoking, hasten, have a conniption, haze, hydrogenate, illusion, inhale, inhale snuff, ink, insolate, irradiate, jerk, jet, kiln, kipper, lava, let out, malaria, marinade, marinate, mark, mayfly, melanize, mephitis, miasma, mire, mist, muck, muck up, muddy, mummify, murk, nicotine addiction, nicotinism, night, nigrify, nubilate, obnubilate, obscure, open the floodgates, open the sluices, overcast, overcloud, overshadow, oversmoke, oxygenate, parch, perfume, phantom, pickle, pissed off, pitch, preservatize, puff, puff of smoke, pull, quick-freeze, rage, raise Cain, raise hell, raise the devil, raise the roof, rant, rant and rave, rave, raven, reek, refrigerate, rub, run, rush, salt, scorch, scoria, sear, season, seethe, send out, shade, shadow, shrivel, simmer, singe, sizzle, slag, slime, sloe, slubber, slur, smear, smirch, smog, smoke-cure, smokes, smoking, smoking habit, smokings, smolder, smudge, smut, smutch, snows of yesteryear, soak up, soil, soot, speed, spirit, sponge, spray, stain, steam, stew, stigmatize, storm, stuff, sublimate, sublime, sullage, sun, sun-dry, swab, tabacism, tabacosis, tabagism, taint, take on, take snuff, tar, tarnish, thin air, throw a fit, throw off, tobaccoism, torrefy, towel, vapor, vaporize, volatile, volatilize, water vapor, weazen, whiz, wipe, wither, wizen, zip
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