Environment Planet Earth Did You Know: There's a Word for the Smell of Fresh Rain By Shea Gunther Writer University of New Hampshire Rochester Institute of Technology University of Southern Maine Shea Gunther is a writer, entrepreneur, and podcaster living in Portland, Maine. He covers topics such as renewable energy, climate change, and nature. our editorial process Shea Gunther Updated May 31, 2017 Rhett Maxwell / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Planet Earth Weather Outdoors Conservation Petrichor. That's the word that describes the smell of rain on dry earth. The term derives from the Greek words petra, meaning "stone" and ichor, which is the fluid that flows int he veins of Greek gods. The word was coined in 1964 by Australian researchers who found that the smell was created by an oil that is released by certain plants during dry periods. When it rains that oil is released into the air, giving us that wonderful smell that brings Spring time to mind.