pe·​tri·​chor ˈpe-trə-ˌkȯr How to pronounce petrichor (audio)
: a distinctive, earthy, usually pleasant odor that is associated with rainfall especially when following a warm, dry period and that arises from a combination of volatile plant oils and geosmin released from the soil into the air and by ozone carried by downdrafts
Australian scientists first documented the process of petrichor formation in 1964 …Tim Logan
The intensity of the petrichor smell can vary with the type of soil and how heavily the rain is falling.John Boyer

Examples of petrichor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Australian scientists first documented the process of petrichor formation in 1964 and scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology further studied the mechanics of the process in the 2010s. Tim Logan, Discover Magazine, 28 Aug. 2018 Scientists have named the aroma petrichor. Roger Naylor, The Arizona Republic, 16 Mar. 2023 Could Titan have its own petrichor too? Marina Koren, The Atlantic, 14 June 2021 Rain on pavement smells different from rain on trees, but the collective term for the resulting odor is petrichor. Avery Hurt, Discover Magazine, 24 Feb. 2021 The wine is packed with aromas and flavors of lime zest, blood orange slices, Bees Knees Salted Honey and petrichor, a fragrance that reminds many of a cross between ozone and the wet concrete surrounding a swimming pool in the summertime. Michael Alberty | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 15 Feb. 2022 In drought the rains will come when the sweet scent of sage meets the smell of petrichor that heralds an incoming storm, and a night sky of stars holds our humility and wonder as the Milky Way arches over us., 7 Apr. 2021 Smells like wool, leather, animal soap and petrichor—the bloom of rocks after rain—rarely impinge, either. Sam Kean, WSJ, 22 Oct. 2020 The steady, pelting rhythm of rain, the musty dampness of canvas, the petrichor of wet springtime lawn—this singular sensory combination evokes the gloriously sodden camping trips of my childhood, despite the surreal circumstances. Danielle Ofri, The New Yorker, 1 Oct. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'petrichor.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


petr(o)- + ichor

Note: The word was introduced by the Australian mineral chemists Isabel Joy Bear (born 1927) and Richard Grenfell Thomas (†1974) in "Nature of argillaceous odour," Nature, vol. 201, No. 4923 (March 7, 1964), pp. 993-95. According to the authors, "The diverse nature of the host material has led us to propose the name 'petrichor' for this apparently unique odour which can be regarded as an 'ichor' or 'tenuous essence' derived from rock or stone."

First Known Use

1964, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of petrichor was in 1964

Dictionary Entries Near petrichor

Cite this Entry

“Petrichor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

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