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[pet-l] /ˈpɛt l/
one of the often colored segments of the corolla of a flower.
Origin of petal
1695-1705; < New Latin petalum petal, Latin: metal plate < Greek pétalon a thin plate, leaf, noun use of neuter of pétalos spread out, akin to petannýnai to be open, Latin patēre to stand open (see patent)
Related forms
petalage, noun
petaled, petalled, adjective
petalless, adjective
petallike, adjective
unpetaled, adjective
unpetalled, adjective
Can be confused
pedal, peddle, petal.


a combining form meaning “seeking, moving toward” that specified by the initial element, used in the formation of compound words:
< New Latin -pet(us) seeking, derivative of Latin petere to seek + -al1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for petal
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The fingers that held the petal tingled, and a flush rose in her cheek.

    Viviette William J. Locke
  • A petal fell off; and the taxi driver, brushing past her, ground it into the rug.


    Stephen French Whitman
  • "The petal of a plum blossom," he said compassionately, in his own tongue.

  • He saw the sunshine of Eden glint on every leaf and beam in every petal.

    Gov. Bob. Taylor's Tales Robert L. Taylor
  • As petal after petal floats down to earth she becomes artistic.

  • Sometimes one petal is missing, and again the petals may be six.

    The Apple-Tree L. H. Bailey
  • petal was Ruth's particular pet—or, had been, when she was a kitten.

British Dictionary definitions for petal


any of the separate parts of the corolla of a flower: often brightly coloured
Derived Forms
petaline, adjective
petal-like, adjective
petalled, adjective
Word Origin
C18: from New Latin petalum, from Greek petalon leaf; related to petannunai to lie open


combining form
seeking: centripetal
Word Origin
from New Latin -petus, from Latin petere to seek
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for petal

1726 (earlier petala, 1704), from Modern Latin petalum "petal" (17c.), from Greek petalon "a leaf; leaf of metal, thin plate," noun use of neuter of adj. petalos "outspread, broad, flat," from PIE root *pete- "to spread out" (see pace (n.)). Related: Petaline.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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petal in Medicine

-petal suff.
Moving toward: basipetal.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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petal in Science
One of the often brightly colored parts of a flower surrounding the reproductive organs. Petals are attached to the receptacle underneath the carpels and stamens and may be separate or joined at their bases. As a group, the petals are called the corolla. See more at flower.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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