Word for Wednesday: Petrichor

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This week’s Word for Wednesday is a beautiful word that I’m sure will resonate with those of you familiar with the English summer.

The word petrichor describes the distinctive scent that occurs when rain falls upon dry earth. The pleasant smell is particularly pronounced when there has been a light shower of rain after a dry spell, where oils secreted by plants are released along with the chemicals produced by soil-dwelling bacteria, Actinomycetes.

The word was coined by two Australian scientists studying the smells of weather in 1964 and comes from the fusing of two words: ‘petra’ the Greek word for ‘stone’ and ‘ichor’ is the ethereal fluid that flowed through the veins of the Greek Gods.

Here is a great video describing the ‘smells’ of wet weather.

That’s all for this week, but if like us you’ll be spending your summer in England – you’ll certainly be smelling petrichor – provided there’s any dry weather to begin with!

Hugh MacDermott

24 Jun 2015
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