Voldemort doesn't have much of a nose.

Would he still be able to smell with what he has left? Assuming his sense of smell is impaired, to what extent was it be stunted?

  • 36
    Because it's obligatory, given the title: "How does he smell? Terrible!"
    – K-H-W
    Feb 22 '17 at 16:49
  • 7
    I don't think this is strictly canonical but snakes smell with their tongue. Voldy probably does too. Feb 22 '17 at 16:51
  • 4
    Awfu- Ah damn @K-H-W
    – Ross
    Feb 22 '17 at 16:52
  • 5
    Terrible! !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Feb 22 '17 at 18:11
  • 2
    @Gallifreyan The edited title didn't capture what I was asking, so I decided to change it back. While I think your suggestions might be slightly better titles, I think mine is fine. Plus the comments stop making sense with a different title :P
    – Others
    Apr 9 '17 at 20:21

Voldemort's nostrils seem to be of variable visibility, but they are generally present. One might imagine that, when they aren't as visible, it's because he doesn't have them flared, so they blend in.

Voldemort is judging you

As for whether a person can smell things without a nose, the experts say that they will be able to, but their ability to breath will be impaired.

Likewise, the nose funnels air (and smells) toward receptor neurons, * which sit behind the face and near the front of the brain. You can't really damage this odor-sensing area by slicing off cartilage. More likely, cutting off someone's nose will affect their breathing, which in turn affects their ability to smell. The front of the nose has two main functions: It guides airflow and filters out dust and other large particles. The nostrils direct incoming breaths up and over turbinates located behind the nose. These turbinates secrete moisture to humidify the air before it reaches the receptors. At the same time, particles get stuck in nasal mucus before dripping or getting sneezed out. Without a nose, you'd end up inhaling more dry, dusty air...

The article in question is specifically addressing a real-world case where Taliban guerrillas sliced off the noses and ears of drivers suspected of colluding with the enemy. In a body shaped by magic, Voldemort might still have working turbinates within his face, which would mean that he might have no problem at all.

  • 3
    When I read "Taliban guerrillas sliced off the noses and ears of drivers" my first thought was that primates are a whole lot more dangerous than I ever thought.
    – Lan
    Feb 22 '17 at 18:48
  • 7
    Well now, who's that handsome devil? Feb 22 '17 at 22:36
  • @TheDarkLord I know, right?!
    – Obsidia
    Apr 9 '17 at 15:28
  • 1
    @Lan Hmm? Taliban are primates, are they not? Apr 9 '17 at 21:08
  • @ApproachingDarknessFish no.
    – Lan
    Apr 9 '17 at 22:53

The answer seems to be "Very well, thank you!"1

You say Voldemort doesn't have much of a nose, but he clearly does have functioning nostrils:

The thin man stepped out of the cauldron, staring at Harry . . . and Harry stared back into the face that had haunted his nightmares for three years. Whiter than a skull, with wide, livid scarlet eyes and a nose that was flat as a snake’s with slits for nostrils . . .

Lord Voldemort had risen again.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - ch. 32: "Flesh, Blood, and Bone", p. 643, Scholastic Press

He can clearly inhale with his nostrils, and widen them when needed, like an ordinary person:

He put back his terrible face and sniffed, his slit-like nostrils widening.

“I smell guilt,” he said. “There is a stench of guilt upon the air.”

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - ch. 33: "Death Eaters", p. 647, Scholastic Press

His nostrils also respond to emotions, as with ordinary people:

“A little break,” said Voldemort, the slit-like nostrils dilating with excitement, “a little pause . . . That hurt, didn't it, Harry? You don’t want me to do that again, do you?”

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - ch. 34: "Priori Incantatem", p. 661, Scholastic Press

Overall, there is no evidence to suggest that his "lack" of nose prevented him from perceiving smells. The changes that happened to him due to horcruxes (the slit-nostrils, the red snake-like eyes) seem to be purely cosmetic, and not influence his capabilities.

  • 1
    Your answer is the best one, because it's based on what Lord Voldemort himself does. It doesn't seem like there's any reason to think he can't detect smells.
    – Obsidia
    Apr 9 '17 at 15:28
  • 1
    @Bellatrix Cheers! I think there is more to his nose in further books, but I couldn't be bothered to search. Apr 9 '17 at 15:32
  • Thanks! What you found is pretty good proof that he can probably perceive smells. His nose seems to work like a normal one, it just looked different. So I don't think you necessarily need to search for more. If you do happen to find anything else about his nose, you can always edit it in later.
    – Obsidia
    Apr 9 '17 at 16:13

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