[ pet-ri-kawr, pe-trahy-kawr ]


  1. a distinctive scent, usually described as earthy, pleasant, or sweet, produced by rainfall on very dry ground.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of petrichor1

First recorded in 1960–65; petro- 1( def ) + ichor ( def ) (in the classical mythology sense “ethereal fluid”)


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More About Petrichor

What does petrichor mean?

Petrichor is the smell caused by rainfall on very dry soil, as in I hate rain but I love the petrichor that results from it.

Petrichor is often described as a pleasant or earthy scent. Because petrichor has a very specific meaning, you are only likely to see it used by people talking about the smells following a rainstorm. Similar to words like saudade and pulchritudinous, petrichor is often a favorite word of people with large vocabularies. When you use petrichor, be aware that not everyone will know what it means.

Example: Every time it rains I get to enjoy the smell of petrichor.

Where does petrichor come from?

The first records of petrichor come from around 1960. It combines petro-, meaning “rock” or “stone,” and the word ichor, used in classical mythology to mean “the fluid flowing in the veins of the gods.”

While petrichor is often said to be “the smell of rain,” the rain water is not the direct cause of the smell. It is actually caused by a chemical known as geosmin, which is released by bacteria in the soil when rain hits the ground. Human noses are especially sensitive to geosmin, which is why this scent is easily detected.

Did you know ... ?

What are some words that share a root or word element with petrichor

What are some words that often get used in discussing petrichor?

How is petrichor used in real life?

Petrichor is a fun word that is used to refer to the smell following rain.

Try using petrichor!

Which of the following words would most likely be used to describe petrichor?

A. sight
B. smell
C. sound
D. taste




petri-petri dish