Difference between Scent and Perfume

Key Difference: Perfume and scent both can be used to refer a pleasant smell that is generally obtained by mixing fragrant essential oils or aroma compounds. However, the word perfume is sometimes preferred over scent, in connotation to describe more elegant fragrances.

It is very difficult to differentiate between a perfume and a scent as mostly they both refer to a pleasant smell. The difference can however be made on the basis of the fact that scent is also used to refer a distinctive odour that may or may not be pleasant. Thus, we can define fragrance as always a pleasant scent. When the scent is used to describe a pleasant smell then, it can also be replaced by perfume.

Oxford Dictionary defines perfume as, “a fragrant liquid typically made from essential oils extracted from flowers and spices, used to give a pleasant smell to one’s body”. Thus, it is used to describe a pleasant smell. The word perfume is derived from the Latin word ‘per fumum’, which means smoke. In the Stone Age, the people get acquainted with the smell of burning wood. Later the smells were sensed from various sources and thus perfumes became popularized with the later civilizations.

Earlier the production of perfume was reserved for the priests as these scents were considered only to conciliate the gods. The priests use to burn incenses and aromatic herbs during religious services. Later kings and queens were allowed to use the perfumes. The term perfume was widely popular in the early 16th century, after the crusaders returned from the Middle East claiming to have acquired the secret of developing fragrance from Europe.

According to Wikipedia a women named Tapputi of 2nd millennium B.C., is considered to be first recorded chemist. She distilled flowers, oil, and calamus in order to make a perfume. The Perfumes are generally prepared by mixing aromatic compounds with ethanol or a mix of ethanol and water. As the concentration of aromatic oil increases, the more intense the perfume becomes and the longer the smell stays. Perfumes generally have essential oil concentration of around 30%.

Oxford Dictionary defines scent as:-

  • a distinctive smell, especially one that is pleasant
  • a trail indicated by the characteristic smell of an animal and perceptible to hounds or
  • the faculty or sense of smell

As, already mentioned that a scent of pleasant smell is also known as perfume, in this sense there is no difference between perfume and scent. The difference is the usage of the word ‘scent’, when it is used to refer a trail that can be characterized by a particular smell of an animal. Thus scent may also be used for an odour that is left by an animal, and this odour may be used for tracing.

For example: ‘A specific trailing dog can be used to track a lost pet’s scent trail’. In this sentence, the scent is referring to a distinctive odour of the lost pet. We cannot replace the word scent by the word perfume, as perfume indicates a pleasant odour and here it is referring to a distinctive odour. The difference can be summed up by saying that a scent and perfume both refer to a distinctive smell. The perfumes in particular, deal with pleasant smells.

Image Courtesy: goldengategreenista.com, clickertraining.com

Most Searched in Home and Garden Most Searched in Business and Finance
Most Searched in Education and References Most Searched in Computers and Internets
HTC Windows 8X vs Nokia Lumia 920
Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Sony Xperia Z2
Solid vs Gas
Meteor vs Meteoroid


very important information.

Add new comment

Plain text

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.