Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Daily Vocabulary

I have a soft spot for neologisms - new words, crafted from the bones of Greek or Latin roots. Today's word is one such.

Petrichor. Say it with me. Feel the syllables strike your hard palate on the "t" and the soft palate on the "ch." Petrichor, petrichor. Say it softly, over and over; it sounds like raindrops striking the hard, dry earth. Petrichor, petrichor, petrichor.

From Greek petra, "stone" + ichor (the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology), petrichor is the name of the scent of rain on dry earth.

No, you haven't imagined it: the smell of fresh rain on dry earth is real, and two Australian scientists coined this name for it in a 1964 paper in the journal Nature. And with the recent, brief rain here after a dry spell, we have a reason to use it, even while most of the US still has to wait for their autumn rains... Petrichor, petrichor.

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