pe·​trel | \ ˈpe-trəl How to pronounce petrel (audio) , ˈpē- How to pronounce petrel (audio) \

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 Your Instagram photo of the day Potentially deadly bile: A snow petrel aggressively pursues a nesting competitor along the high cliffs of interior Antarctica. National Geographic, "Calming jittery pets while fireworks explode," 2 July 2020 Take the Cory's shearwater, an oceangoing petrel species that migrates over the Atlantic every year. Jason G. Goldman, Scientific American, "Shorebird Learns Long Migration Routes," 1 May 2020 Recent bird sightings as reported to the Massachusetts Audubon Society: The third ever sighting of a Bermuda petrel was recorded in Massachusetts., "► Manomet Center for Conservation Science in Plymouth:," 30 Sep. 2019 This high-altitude realm is the nesting site for Zino’s petrel, one of the rarest birds in the world. National Geographic, "Try the coveted wine that made this Portuguese island famous," 10 Jan. 2020 Getting rid of the mice, which are the last remaining nonnative mammals on the islands, would reduce owl predation enough for the petrel population to stabilize and maybe even grow, the study said. Peter Fimrite,, "Exterminating mice with poison would protect rare seabirds on Farallones, study says," 7 Oct. 2019 But when the mouse population crashes in the winter, the owls prey on the ashy storm-petrel, whose population on the islands — where half the world’s storm petrels nest — has been declining since the ’90s. Laura Newberry,, "The U.S. wants to dump 1.5 tons of rat poison on the Farallon Islands. Biologists say it’s for the best," 7 July 2019 Registered guests are trained to rescue juvenile puffins and petrels at night—when they can be confused by artificial light—then release them in the right direction in the morning. Michael S. Nolan, National Geographic, "Stay and Play," 12 June 2019 At Andrew’s Point in Gloucester, there were two Northern pintails, a very early harlequin duck, a dovekie, 18 Leach’s storm-petrels, and a white-eyed vireo., "You're using a browser set to private or incognito mode.," 14 Oct. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of petrel

1602, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for petrel

earlier also pitteril, pitteral, of obscure origin

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Cite this Entry

“Petrel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for petrel



English Language Learners Definition of petrel

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


pe·​trel | \ ˈpe-trəl How to pronounce petrel (audio) , 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 Encyclopedia article about petrel

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