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Definition a foul-smelling outflow or vapor — typically given off by waste

More rarely, effluvium can reference any byproduct or waste as in "the effluvia of pop culture."
  • The landfill emits a noxious effluvium.
  • Frequently, when passing at the distance of half a mile to leeward of a herd, I have perceived the whole air tainted with the effluvium.
    Charles Darwin  --  The Voyage of the Beagle
  • A skunk padded heavily and unself-consciously down the trail, carrying a faint effluvium with him.
    John Steinbeck  --  The Grapes of Wrath
  • These effluvia, all the doctors agreed, though unpleasant, were not in the least harmful.
    Albert Camus  --  The Plague
  • "Effluvium," Langdon said.
    Dan Brown  --  Angels & Demons
  • It left an effluvium of cordite that mingled with the pot smoke.
    James Patterson  --  1st to Die
  • The gutters filled with rust-colored pine needles and the pungent effluvium of alder leaves, and the drainpipes splashed with winter rain.
    David Guterson  --  Snow Falling on Cedars
  • One inhales the effluvia of the great black void.
    Victor Hugo  --  Les Miserables
  • A quack doctor pitched patent medicines from the back of a wagon: "A rare cordial to fortify the innards against infective parasites, unwholesome damps, and malignant effluvia!"
    Ransom Riggs  --  Hollow City
  • The old ones sit there with their liver-spotted hands crooked on the hickory sticks, and they emit a kind of metaphysical effluvium by virtue of which your categories are altered.
    Robert Penn Warren  --  All the King's Men
  • Yes, shadowy: a myth, a phantom: something which they engendered and created whole themselves; some effluvium of Sutpen blood and character, as though as a man he did not exist at all.
    William Faulkner  --  Absalom, Absalom!
  • The odor of the place assailed him: unwashed bodies, distillate esters of reclaimed wastes, everywhere the sour effluvia of humanity with, over it all, a turbulence of spice and spicelike harmonics.
    Frank Herbert  --  Dune
  • He took possession of a small tumble-down shed to sleep in; the effluvia of filth and rotten matter incommoded him greatly: it seems he had not lost his appetite though, because—he told me—he had been hungry all the blessed time.
    Joseph Conrad  --  Lord Jim
  • No; without a gown, in a shift that was somewhat of the coarsest, and none of the cleanest, bedewed likewise with some odoriferous effluvia, the produce of the day's labour, with a pitchfork in her hand, Molly Seagrim approached.
    Henry Fielding  --  Tom Jones
  • How this account of Mr. Swills is entirely corroborated by two intelligent married females residing in the same court and known respectively by the names of Mrs. Piper and Mrs. Perkins, both of whom observed the foetid effluvia and regarded them as being emitted from the premises in the occupation of Krook, the unfortunate deceased.
    Charles Dickens  --  Bleak House
  • While disease had thus become an inhabitant of Lowood, and death its frequent visitor; while there was gloom and fear within its walls; while its rooms and passages steamed with hospital smells, the drug and the pastille striving vainly to overcome the effluvia of mortality, that bright May shone unclouded over the bold hills and beautiful woodland out of doors.
    Charlotte Bronte  --  Jane Eyre
  • ...they dread in the celestial bodies: for instance, that the earth, by the continual approaches of the sun towards it, must, in course of time, be absorbed, or swallowed up; that the face of the sun, will, by degrees, be encrusted with its own effluvia, and give no more light to the world; that the earth very narrowly escaped a brush from the tail of the last comet, which would have infallibly reduced it to ashes; and that the next, which they have calculated for one-and-thirty years...
    Jonathan Swift  --  Gulliver's Travels
  • Clotted human effluvium, gone to dust.
    Margaret Atwood  --  The Blind Assassin
  • In the vast cosmic exchanges the universal life goes and comes in unknown quantities, rolling entirely in the invisible mystery of effluvia, employing everything, not losing a single dream, not a single slumber, sowing an animalcule here, crumbling to bits a planet there, oscillating and winding, making of light a force and of thought an element, disseminated and invisible, dissolving all, except that geometrical point, the I; bringing everything back to the soul-atom; expanding...
    Victor Hugo  --  Les Miserables
  • ...when beside a shuttered and unsleeping candle she embalmed the War and its heritage of suffering and injustice and sorrow on the backsides of the pages within an old account book, embalming blotting from the breathable air the poisonous secret effluvium of lusting and hating and killing —they will have told you: daughter of an embusque who had to turn to a demon, a villain: and therefore she had been right in hating her father since if he had not died in that attic she would not have...
    William Faulkner  --  Absalom, Absalom!

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