Petrichor = The pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a dry spell
The term was coined in 1964 by two CSIRO researchers, Isabel Joy Bear (Australian) and Roderick G. Thomas (British), for an article in the journal Nature.
The word is constructed from Greek, petra, meaning “stone”, + ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.
The distinctive smell comes from an oil exuded by certain plants during dry periods, whereupon it is absorbed by clay-based soils and rocks. When it rains, the oil is released into the air along with another compound, geosmin, a metabolic by-product of certain Actinobacteria, which is emitted by wet soil, producing the distinctive scent.
- What other words are used to describe the scents, sounds accompanying rainfall?