Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Sensory Word of the Week

Each week I plan to share a word that appeals to the senses or somehow describes sensory experiences. For my first Sensory Word of the Week post, I chose a word that I recently came across.  Defined by, petrichor is "a distinctive scent, usually described as earthy, pleasant, or sweet, produced by rainfall on very dry ground."

According to, the word has Greek roots. Petros means "stone," and ichor is "the mythical rarified fluid that flowed in the veins of the gods." The word was coined by a couple of geologists in 1964.

I never knew the word petrichor existed, but as soon as I came across the definition, I instantly remembered the sensation, what I had simply thought to be the smell of rain. I love the smell of rain. Who doesn't? Now I know that the smell comes from the combination of rain with the dry earth; it's not the rain itself that smells. After I gained this awareness, I began to take note of petrichor in greater detail. It seems stronger when I'm around more natural areas (grass, gardens, tall trees) as opposed to more streets and pavement. The humidity in the air feels heavy and penetrating. Usually there's a sense of calm and quietness, perhaps because chirping birds and other animals (and people) have not yet come out from cover. The raindrops on the blooms and leaves of plants seem most beautiful when daylight is fading away. We had a particularly rainy spring season in the St. Louis area, and sometimes rain puts a damper on things. However, it provided plenty of opportunities to enjoy petrichor, and I look forward to the next rain.


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