People who can't see are blind, and people who can't hear are deaf. What is the term for people who lack the sense of smell or taste? Smell-less? Taste-less?
Illustration by Slug Signorino
No question, these would be handy terms to have in these trying times. Let me consult the files. Ah, here we are. The technical term for the inability to smell is anosmia, and a person who is unable to detect smells is anosmic. The inability to taste is ageusia, and a (literally) tasteless person presumably would be an ageusiatic. These terms allow one to express oneself in an honest yet tactful manner. Thus:
Vaguely Important Looking Person at party: “I thought Demi Moore gave a compelling performance in Striptease.“
You: “Goodness, you must be an anosmic ageusiatic.”(1)
VILP: “No, actually I’m a Presbyterian from Cleveland.”
A related term is dysgeusia, the condition of having an abnormal, presumably bad, taste in your mouth. This word offers a range of uses. Basic application: “Marge, that velvet Elvis painting is the last word in dysgeusia.” “Thanks, we’re the envy of the trailer park.” Or more elaborately: “I know they pay me big money to be the president’s press secretary, but spinning this Monica-gate thing leaves me with a sensation of dysgeusia.” “Son, you work here long enough, you get used to being disgusterated.” If you have an opportunity to use these words — and nowadays who doesn’t? — feel free.
(1) “You have no taste and you can’t tell when something smells.”
Send questions to Cecil via firstname.lastname@example.org.