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Petrichor is the very distinctive scent of rain on dry earth, that familiar smell of changing seasons.


The word petrichor stemmed from the Greek words petra, meaning stone or soil, and ichor, the fluid running through Gods’ veins in Greek mythology.

Surprisingly, this word noun is not an ancient noun long forgotten, but a very ‘young’ word not too many of us know, it is not even found in most dictionaries I have checked.

Petrichor was coined in 1964 by two Australian researchers, Bear and Thomas, in an article the two wrote for the Nature journal. The article describes how smell derives from oil exuded by certain plants in dry periods and absorbed by clay-based soil and rocks.

Why this word?

Language, like software, like human kind, is an ongoing process; it would never seize from evolving.

In the early days of human communication, we had to worry for verbs to allow us to plan the day, for a few weather nouns to enable us to address the only entity responsible for our lives and a to name the animals, our food. With the development of science, mathematics and physics, ancient scientists began to name observed phenomena and enrich language and speech, but these days are buried in the past. Modern language evolves mainly in the adjectival realm as the physical word around us is by now known and named; it is our representation of it that continues to evolve.

Petrichor is wonderful evidence to the fact that not all surrounding us was already thought of and presented into language.

How to use petrichor?

Well, this is a relatively simple noun. Address it upon encountering petrichor, tell your friends to enjoy it, write a poem about it and mainly- just use it.   


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Written by Victoria Sheinkin

Victoria Sheinkin is a writer, content editor, translator and chief editor for Speaking three and a half languages, she holds two BAs from the Tel Aviv university- Communication and jounalism, English literature and linguistics.


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