How To Tell Someone They Smell Bad

Have you ever had a friend that smelled really bad but you just didn't have the nerve to tell them? Have you ever been talking with someone and their breath just wreaked? Have you ever been playing basketball and your teammates pits just kill you? Well, what do you say? What do you do? And is there a nice way to do it? Here's what Marcus Aurelius once said (I must say, its quite a joy to stumble across passages like this when reading ancient literature!!!):

"Are you irritated with one whose arm-pits smell? Are you angry with one whose mouth has a foul odor? What good will your anger do you? He has this mouth, he has these arm-pits. Such emanations must come from such things. 'But the man has reason,' you will say, 'and he could, if he took pains, discover wherein he offends.' I wish you well of your discovery. Now you too have reason; by your rational faculty, stir up his rational faculty; show him his fault, admonish him. For if he listens, you will cure him, and have no need of anger--you are not a ranter or a whore." (Meditations, 5.28)

So, I guess the way to do it is to ask him some trick, self-reflective questions and or take him through some trick, self-reflective activity, so that he will soon realize that he stinks. How have you handled this problem?


  1. 'Have you cleaned your teeth recently?' or 'Have you had a shower?' usually do the trick. Telling them their "fault" is unnecesary and "admonishing" them is extreme. I sat next to an anarchist on a two day bus trip once. I got on well with her all the way but I didn't bother telling her she smelled. I'm sure she knew.

  2. I'll strive not to be a "ranter or a whore." Mike, remember when we would play soccer in college...well, uh...

    lol :)

  3. Now THAT'S some deep stuff!!! And' "Hello, my name is Ken and I am a ranter...but NOT a whore"

  4. "Would you like a breath mint?" is a good start, though I think "would you like some deoderant?" might not go over so well! ;)

  5. I prefer to say,
    "Dude!" And take a big, long, whiff, not prevaricating any latent sounds from my inhalations, after which I say, "Something frickin' wreaks in here. Do you smell that?"
    If they still don't get it, I must tell them of their fault.

    Why prevaricate?