petrel

noun
pe·​trel | \ ˈpe-trəl , ˈpē- \

Definition of petrel

: any of numerous seabirds (especially families Procellariidae and Hydrobatidae) especially : one of the smaller long-winged birds that fly far from land — compare storm petrel

Examples of petrel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

However, based on a 2014 genetic study, the lineage may have split off from their closest relatives, a group of seabirds that today includes albatrosses and petrels, around 60 million years ago. 4. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "20 Things You Didn't Know About ... Penguins," 6 Nov. 2018 The rats—brought to the island by whalers and sealers as early as the late 18th century—ate the eggs and vulnerable chicks of seabirds, including albatrosses, skua, terns, and petrels. National Geographic, "Large Island Declared Rat-Free in Biggest Removal Success," 9 May 2018 Conservationists have long worried about microplastics, the tiny bits that have been found in the stomachs of seabirds, including many petrels, auklets and gulls that live along the California coast. Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, "Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now three times the size of France," 22 Mar. 2018 While penguins may look profoundly different from other birds, their DNA points to a close kinship to such species as albatrosses and petrels. Carl Zimmer, New York Times, "Ancient Penguins Were Giant Waddling Predators," 12 Dec. 2017 Seabirds that are strong flyers; gulls, shearwaters, petrels, and jaegers; will usually exit the storm first. Taylor Piephoff, charlotteobserver, "Look what the hurricane blew in," 22 Sep. 2017 The island is a nesting site for rare species of petrels, shearwaters and terns. Evan Halper, latimes.com, "These are the 10 ecologically sensitive landscapes and marine preserves Trump may be targeting," 18 Sep. 2017 The team also found, not surprisingly, that the birds most attracted to the DMS odor are the albatrosses, petrels, and shearwaters that are most severely affected by plastic consumption. Laura Parker, National Geographic, "Animals Eat Ocean Plastic Because it Smells Like Food," 9 Nov. 2016 More specifically, Wilson is tweeting from Bird Island, which is all of three miles long and populated by extremely photogenic giant petrels, macaroni penguins, and elephant seals. Chelsea Leu, WIRED, "Scientists Who Tweet From Ridiculously Remote Places," 23 Oct. 2015

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'petrel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of petrel

1602, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for petrel

alteration of earlier pitteral

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about petrel

Statistics for petrel

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for petrel

The first known use of petrel was in 1602

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for petrel

petrel

noun

English Language Learners Definition of petrel

: a bird that has long wings and usually dark feathers and that lives mainly on the ocean

petrel

noun
pe·​trel | \ ˈpe-trəl , ˈpē-\

Kids Definition of petrel

: a small seabird with long wings that flies far from land

More from Merriam-Webster on petrel

Britannica English: Translation of petrel for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about petrel

Comments on petrel

What made you want to look up petrel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

irregularly rounded

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!