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From petr(o)- (prefix meaning ‘of or pertaining to stone’) +‎ ichor ((Greek mythology) liquid that flows in the veins of gods in place of blood). Coined by Australian scientist Richard Grenfell Thomas in 1964 for the article “Nature of Argillaceous Odour”, co-authored by Isabel Joy Bear and published in the journal Nature.[1]



petrichor (uncountable)

  1. The distinctive scent, caused by geosmin, which accompanies the first rain after a long, warm, dry spell.
    • 2010, Val Panesar, For the Sake of the Future:
      Though it had yet to begin raining, the familiar smell of petrichor appeared to be already present and Neelam suddenly wished she was sitting at home with a nice cup of tea and a good book.
    • 2012, Diane Olson, A Nature Lover's Almanac, Gibbs Smith (→ISBN)
      The sources of the heavenly scent during and immediately after it rains are petrichor and geosmin. Petricor is an oil produced by plants then absorbed by rocks and soil and released into the air during rainfall.
  2. The yellow organic oil that yields this scent.
    • 1980, John E Bardach et al., Fish Behavior and its Use in the Capture and Culture of Fishes:
      He hypothesizes that this factor may be petrichor, an oil which has been isolated from silicate minerals and rocks [...].

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Isabel Joy Bear; Richard G. Thomas (March 1964) , “Nature of Argillaceous Odour”, in Nature, volume 201, issue 4923, Bibcode1964Natur.201..993B, DOI:10.1038/201993a0, pages 993–995.

Further reading[edit]