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

Others, such as the Kermadec petrel and white-bellied storm petrel, found on surrounding islets, may return on their own—providing this summer's campaign can end the centurylong reign of the rats. John Pickrell, Science | AAAS, "Mass rodent poisoning on this remote Australian island could bring back giant stick insect," 5 June 2019 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,, "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

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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Statistics for petrel

Last Updated

14 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for petrel

The first known use of petrel was in 1602

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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

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).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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