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petrel

[pe-truh l] /ˈpɛ trəl/
noun
1.
any of numerous tube-nosed seabirds of the families Procellariidae, Hydrobatidae, and Pelecanoididae.
Origin
1670-1680
1670-80; earlier pitteral, of uncertain origin; perhaps altered by association with St. Peter (who attempted to walk on the water of Lake Gennesareth), alluding to the bird's habit of flying close to the ocean surface
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for petrel
  • We are enjoined to see the penguins as good and the giant petrel as wicked.
  • Authorities identified the large birds as a type of petrel known as the sooty shearing.
British Dictionary definitions for petrel

petrel

/ˈpɛtrəl/
noun
1.
any oceanic bird of the order Procellariiformes, having a hooked bill and tubular nostrils: includes albatrosses, storm petrels, and shearwaters See also storm petrel
Word Origin
C17: variant of earlier pitteral, associated by folk etymology with St Peter, because the bird appears to walk on water
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for petrel
n.

seabird, 1670s, pitteral, modern spelling first recorded 1703 by English explorer William Dampier (1651-1715), who wrote the bird was so called from its way of flying with its feet just skimming the surface of the water, which recalls the apostle's walk on the sea of Galilee (Matt. xiv:28); if so, it likely was formed in English as a diminutive of Peter (Late Latin Petrus). If this is folk etymology, the true source of the name is undiscovered. French pétrel (1760) probably is from English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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