Word of the day : Petrichor

Apparently there was a sprinkling of rain at Wimbledon today.  Where was mine?  My garden looks as though it’s a haystack that’s been tossed in a frying pan, and there is no sign of relief.

So, instead I shall have to imagine that little shower at Wimbledon, and the scent that it raised from the thirsty soil.

That’s the word for today. Petrichor.  The earthy smell you get when rain falls on dry ground.  It comes from the Greek petra, or stone, and ichor, the blood of the gods.

It was coined in 1964 for an article in the journal Nature, by two researchers from Australia, where they’re probably very familiar with the idea of dry soil.

Petrichor.

I’m just waiting for some petrichor.

The image is from one of my students, and is Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’.

Petrichor.  Please.

8 thoughts on “Word of the day : Petrichor”

      1. I can remember someone explaining that aroma to me, and that there was a word for it, but I do not remember the word. It could have been the same. Do you happen to know where the term ‘smog’ came from? It is not as interesting, but the word was quite common for a while.

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        1. I believe the word ‘smog’ was coined in the early 20th century or thereabouts, because of the London pea-soupers, which were a mixture of smoke from fires and industry, and fog from the River Thames, hence smog. I think they were called pea-soupers because of the unhealthy greenish colour that presumably looked as though it could be cut with a spoon… All words are interesting! :~))

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  1. Petrichor, that’s the smell, or only just the anticipation of rain on dry earth. I am in need of an absolute downpour, a thunner-pash! My garden is suffering greatly. Do you know Robert Macfarlane’s ‘Landmark” book containing a glossary of regional words to describe the land and the weather? It’s delightful. I don’t just want a skiff I want it to be really slappy!

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