late 14c., sent "to find the scent of," from Old French sentir "to feel, smell, touch, taste; realize, perceive; make love to," from Latin sentire " to feel, perceive, sense, discern, hear, see" (see sense (n.)).
Originally a hunting term. The -c- appeared 17c., perhaps by influence of ascent, descent, etc., or by influence of science. This was a tendency in early Modern English, cf. scythe, and also scite, scituate. Figurative use from 1550s. Transitive sense "impregnate with an odor, perfume" is from 1690s. Related: Scented; scenting.