the visible vapor and gases given off by a burning or smoldering substance, especially the gray, brown, or blackish mixture of gases and suspended carbon particles resulting from the combustion of wood, peat, coal, or other organic matter.
something resembling this, as vapor or mist, flying particles, etc.
something unsubstantial, evanescent, or without result:
Their hopes and dreams proved to be smoke.
an obscuring condition:
the smoke of controversy.
an act or spell of smoking something, especially tobacco:
They had a smoke during the intermission.
something for smoking, as a cigar or cigarette:
This is the best smoke on the market.
Slang. .
Slang. a homemade drink consisting of denatured alcohol and water.
Physics, Chemistry. a system of solid particles suspended in a gaseous medium.
a bluish or brownish gray color.
to give off or emit smoke, as in burning.
to give out smoke offensively or improperly, as a stove.
to send forth steam or vapor, dust, or the like.
to draw into the mouth and puff out the smoke of tobacco or the like, as from a pipe or cigarette.
Slang. to ride or travel with great speed.

to flee.
to abscond.

to draw into the mouth and puff out the smoke of:
to smoke tobacco.
to use (a pipe, cigarette, etc.) in this process.
to expose to smoke.
to fumigate (rooms, furniture, etc.).
to cure (meat, fish, etc.) by exposure to smoke.
to color or darken by smoke.
smoke out,

to drive from a refuge by means of smoke.
to force into public view or knowledge; reveal:
to smoke out the leaders of the spy ring.

go up / end in smoke, to terminate without producing a result; be unsuccessful:
All our dreams went up in smoke.
Contemporary Examples

My dreams are of a field afar And blood and smoke and shot.
Judge Not the Deserters Charles Glass May 25, 2013

The dust catches in the throat like smoke, and the tiny glasslike shards sting the eyes.
Midwest Drought Forces South Dakota Farmers and Ranchers to Abandon Crops and Thin Herds Barbie Latza Nadeau August 4, 2012

For the next 10 hours, I had to watch the smoke rise from the Pentagon, knowing that part of it was from charred bodies.
There’s No Crying in Journalism—Even After the Horrifying Connecticut School Shootings Lauren Ashburn December 15, 2012

When it comes to the increasing number of rape allegations leveled at Bill Cosby, the smoke is becoming impenetrable.
Butts, Brawls, and Bill Cosby: The Biggest Celebrity Scandals of 2014
 Kevin Fallon December 26, 2014

Specifically, which American cities not only smoke the most, but also try to quit the least?
30 Cities With Smoking Problems The Daily Beast January 2, 2011

Historical Examples

“That looks like the smoke of a steamer,” Sir Bryan observed.
Peak and Prairie Anna Fuller

She must have suspected her danger by that time, for the smoke grew blacker.
A Prisoner of Morro Upton Sinclair

She believed that both the smoke and fire were caused by the serpent.
Welsh Folk-Lore Elias Owen

I had cleared away the breakfast-dishes, and went on deck to smoke.
Up the River Oliver Optic

The cock was down, the pan and muzzle were black with the smoke; it had been that instant fired.
Waverley Sir Walter Scott

the product of combustion, consisting of fine particles of carbon carried by hot gases and air
any cloud of fine particles suspended in a gas

the act of smoking tobacco or other substances, esp in a pipe or as a cigarette or cigar
the duration of smoking such substances


a cigarette or cigar
a substance for smoking, such as pipe tobacco or marijuana

something with no concrete or lasting substance: everything turned to smoke
a thing or condition that obscures
any of various colours similar to that of smoke, esp a dark grey with a bluish, yellowish, or greenish tinge
go up in smoke, end up in smoke

to come to nothing
to burn up vigorously
to flare up in anger

(intransitive) to emit smoke or the like, sometimes excessively or in the wrong place

to draw in on (a burning cigarette, etc) and exhale the smoke
to use tobacco for smoking

(intransitive) (slang) to use marijuana for smoking
(transitive) to bring (oneself) into a specified state by smoking
(transitive) to subject or expose to smoke
(transitive) to cure (meat, fish, cheese, etc) by treating with smoke
(transitive) to fumigate or purify the air of (rooms, etc)
(transitive) to darken (glass, etc) by exposure to smoke
(intransitive) (slang) to move, drive, ride, etc, very fast
(transitive) (obsolete) to tease or mock
(transitive) (archaic) to suspect or detect
the Smoke, short for Big Smoke

late Old English smoca (rare) “fumes and volatile material given off by burning substances,” related to smeocan “give off smoke,” from Proto-Germanic *smuk- (cf. Middle Dutch smooc, Dutch smook, Middle High German smouch, German Schmauch), from PIE root *smeug- “to smoke; smoke” (cf. Armenian mux “smoke,” Greek smykhein “to burn with smoldering flame,” Old Irish much, Welsh mwg “smoke”).

The more usual noun was Old English smec, which became dialectal smeech. Abusive meaning “black person” attested from 1913, American English. Smoke-eater “firefighter” is c.1930. Figurative phrase go up in smoke “be destroyed” (as if by fire) is from 1933. Smoke alarm first attested 1936; smoke-detector from 1957.

“cigarette,” slang, 1882, from smoke (n.1). Also “opium” (1884). Meaning “a spell of smoking tobacco” is recorded from 1835.

Old English smocian “to produce smoke, emit smoke,” especially as a result of burning, from smoke (n.1). Meaning “to drive out or away or into the open by means of smoke” is attested from 1590s. Meaning “to apply smoke to, to cure (bacon, fish, etc.) by exposure to smoke” is first attested 1590s. In connection with tobacco, “draw fumes from burning into the mouth,” first recorded 1604 in James I’s “Counterblast to Tobacco.” Related: Smoked; smoking. Smoking gun in figurative sense of “incontestable evidence” is from 1974.
A mixture of carbon dioxide, water vapor, and other gases, usually containing particles of soot or other solids, produced by the burning of carbon-containing materials such as wood and coal.

noun phrase

A computer ”emoticon”(:-), used to express happiness or approval: messages studded with smiley faces (1990s+ Computer)

1. To crash or blow up, usually spectacularly. “The new version smoked, just like the last one.” Used for both hardware (where it often describes an actual physical event), and software (where it’s merely colourful).
2. [Automotive slang] To be conspicuously fast. “That processor really smokes.” Compare magic smoke.
[Jargon File]
In addition to the idiom beginning with
also see:

chain smoker
go up in flames (smoke)
holy cow (smoke)
no smoke without fire
watch one’s dust (smoke)


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