This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.



Friday, 26 August 2016

Word To Use Today. Possibly. Although It Might Spoil Things A Bit: petrichor.

I have mixed feelings about the word petrichor. It describes something for which few English-speakers have a name, but at the same time it's a horribly heavy, stomping sort of word.

It describes a rare, effervescent pleasure of the natural world, but manages to sound like a waste-product of the mining industry.

What is it?

Petrichor is the scent of rain on dry earth.

File:Rain Quail.JPG
photo by Pratiksha Kothule

This scent is partly made by the oils that plants excrete to stop their seeds germinating in a dry spell (clever, huh?) and partly from stuff called geosmin, which is excreted by actinobacteria (they're the ones that break down dead stuff so that plants can get at the minerals in it).


Hmmm...

...so from now on am I going to be taking a deep life-enhancing breath on a showery day and saying to myself, oh, the scent of plant family-planning oil and bacteria poo!

Well, rather unfortunately, I think I am, now.

Rats.

Word To Use Today. Possibly. Although It Might Spoil Things A Bit: petrichor. This word in 1964 by the Australian scientists Isabel Joy Bear and Richard G Thomas in the journal Nature. It comes from the Greek words petra, which means stone, and ichor, the golden fluid that is said to flow through the veins of the gods.



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