Word of the Week: Petrichor

I hear leaves drinking rain;
I hear rich leaves on top
Giving the poor beneath
Drop after drop;
'Tis a sweet noise to hear
These green leaves drinking near.

- William Henry Davies

Rain… Who doesn’t love the first rain?

The nature transforms immediately. The trees shake off their old, tired, wrinkly selves and stand up straighter; the leaves wake up and start drinking in the water and glow brighter, the buds start opening up, the birds start chirping, the frogs start croaking…  It’s a wake-up call to the nature…

And then there is the sweet smell of the soil which lingers in the air…

You know that earthy odour which emanates from earth after the first rain following a long dry spell, right? You recognise that wonderful sweet smell, right? The smell which makes us all feel more alive and awakens the romantic poet in everyone…

That particular smell, my friends, has a name. It is called Petrichor.

“She opened the window and inhaled the petrichor, and  felt herself calm immediately. Oh! How  she loved the smell!”

petrichor /ˈpɛtrʌɪkɔː/

A pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.

e.g.: Other than the petrichor emanating from the rapidly drying grass, there was not a trace of evidence that it had rained at all.

Source: Oxford Dictionary

The term Petrichor was coined by two Australian researchers in 1964. Petrichor – derived from the combination of two Greek words petros, which means stone, and ichor, the “ethereal essence” believed to flow through the veins of their gods, or the blood of gods.

But have you ever wondered where  comes from or why we detect it at all?

During the dry months, the plants secrete a mix of oils which inhibits  further growth during the dry season where sufficient water might not available to sustain that growth. This mix of oil accumulates in rocks and the soil. When rain hits these particles, the compound breaks up and the petrichor is released. Another chemical called geosmin, secreted by a group of soil-dwelling bacteria, called actinomycetes, mixes with the plant oils to contribute to this smell.

And that’s why the world smells so different after rains

Apparently, nature is hard-wired to detect petrichor. Scientists believe that we might have inherited the affinity for petrichor from our ancestors, who relied on rains for their survival. In the desert regions, it works as a signal to the camels that water is now available and they should fill up their tanks. The geosmin is carried to the waterbodies by the rain and it also acts as a cue to the fishes that it’s time to start breeding!

It’s strange thinking how the smallest of things in the nature might be such a huge contributing factor to its survival, and maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. Everything is connected!



Reading Challenge Update: A Pulitzer…

Reading Challenge Update: A Pulitzer Prize winning book – done!

You can check out the reading challenge here.

Word of the Week: Apposite

As soon as I volunteered to do this week’s Etymology post, I knew I would be sharing this word.

I came across this word in my high school days. There was a funny incident related to it. But first, let’s explore the word.

Apposite: /ˈapəzɪt/
apt in the circumstances or in relation to something.
“an apposite quotation”
“the observations are apposite to the discussion”

synonyms: appropriate, suitable, fitting, apt, befitting;
antonyms: inappropriate

late 16th century: from Latin appositus, past participle of apponere ‘apply’, from ad-‘towards’ + ponere ‘put’.

More Examples:

  • In few areas of life, I suggest, is this warning more apposite than in relation to writing and publishing.
  • The comments I earlier made concerning the biography of the subject ladder are equally apposite the present circumstances.
  • Such considerations are particularly apposite in relation to Glastonbury.

Source: Oxford Dictionary

Okay. Now gather around for the story, kids!
Once upon a time in my high school years, the language teacher (let’s say Miss D) was dictating the class an assignment. She started by presenting a situation, and then said  “… you are to write an apposite article you would send in to the publisher.” We all looked quizzically at her, but her nose was immersed in the book she was dictating from. Naturally we assumed that she had made a mistake with the pronunciation (as English is not our native tongue, it’s not a huge surprise if someone mis-pronounces something). A bunch of hormone-raging, overconfident teens that we were, we naturally assumed she meant opposite. I confess, we were puzzled- why would she ask us to write something which was “opposite” to the context; but then to us, all the teachers in this big bad world are thought to be crazy, who live for the sole purpose of making our life hard and difficult. Well, you get the picture.
You can imagine what happened next. The whole class just submitted nonsensical essays. She assumed we were all playing a prank on her; we were all sent to the Principal and we were given our version of detention.
*Loud sigh*
So, coming back to the topic at hand, if something is apposite, it is suitable or relevant to the situation. Needless to say, our introduction to the word was not quite apposite.
Quite ironic, right?
Would you like to share any such instances where you did the opposite of the apposite?

Reading Challenge Update: A book…

Reading Challenge Update: A book written by a writer with the same initials as you – check!

2 down, 48 to go!


Reading Challenge Update:

I am done with my first book for the reading challenge : A book which was made into a movie. I guess tv series should count as well.
It’s also the book review I have ever done. 😀

First Post of the Year, Yay!

I have just published my first post of the year. As I am planning to work on my writing skills, I invite and welcome all feedback. Thank you.