petrel

[ pe-truh l ]
/ ˈpɛ trəl /
|

noun

any of numerous tube-nosed seabirds of the families Procellariidae, Hydrobatidae, and Pelecanoididae.

Nearby words

  1. petrarchan,
  2. petrarchan sonnet,
  3. petrarchianism,
  4. petrarchism,
  5. petrarchist,
  6. petri dish,
  7. petri-,
  8. petrichor,
  9. petrie,
  10. petrie, sir william matthew flinders


Origin of petrel

1670–80; earlier pitteral, of uncertain origin; perhaps altered by association with St. Peter (who attempted to walk on the water of Lake Gennesareth), alluding to the bird's habit of flying close to the ocean surface

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for petrel


British Dictionary definitions for petrel

petrel

/ (ˈpɛtrəl) /

noun

any oceanic bird of the order Procellariiformes, having a hooked bill and tubular nostrils: includes albatrosses, storm petrels, and shearwatersSee also storm petrel

Word Origin for petrel

C17: variant of earlier pitteral, associated by folk etymology with St Peter, because the bird appears to walk on water

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

Word Origin and History for petrel

petrel

n.

seabird, 1670s, pitteral, modern spelling first recorded 1703 by English explorer William Dampier (1651-1715), who wrote the bird was so called from its way of flying with its feet just skimming the surface of the water, which recalls the apostle's walk on the sea of Galilee (Matt. xiv:28); if so, it likely was formed in English as a diminutive of Peter (Late Latin Petrus). If this is folk etymology, the true source of the name is undiscovered. French pétrel (1760) probably is from English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper