Tag Archives: petrichor

Words we love irrationally much

This article was originally published on The Editors’ Weekly, the blog of Editors Canada.

I asked people on Twitter about words they love irrationally much. I got quite a few responses. Actually, I got so many that when I tried to retweet them all, Twitter finally told me I had reached my daily tweet limit. And did again the next day.

The words that people love irrationally much are many and varied. But a few words came up again and again, and it’s interesting to see what they have in common. Continue reading


Does this word have the scent of a chorus of rocks? Oh, yes, it does, as the dry ground sings its musty smell when the spring rain hits it. The petr is the same Greek pet(e)r, “rock,” you see everywhere: petroleum, petrified, saltpeter. The ichor actually has naught to do with a chorus, being rather the Greek word for the ethereal fluid that flowed in the veins of the Gods in place of blood; it has in English taken on more practical meanings to do with emanating fluids. But it has been borrowed to blend in today’s word to refer more to the flux of aroma: not the mud made by the spattering rain but the recrudescent redolence that tells our noses the dry spell is done. The enunciation moves backward in the mouth, with the lips starting, then the tip of the tongue touching the alveolar ridge, then the dorsum at the velum, and a subsiding liquid to end it, as though tracing the flow of a fresh flood into your thirsting mouth. On paper, this word has a rich heart, and as the water mixes with the soil, and the earthbound springs to life, we see it ret the roots and leave us with an orchid (the p has risen to d). As the drops lash the ground, engage in that porch rite of watching it from shelter – but where you can still smell it.