One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
With capital initial. Of or relating to ancient Arabia Petraea, the Roman province lying south of Phoenicia and south and east of Judaea, including most of Sinai and present-day Jordan and the southern part of present-day Syria; (also) of or relating to Petra, the principal city of this province (now a city in present-day Jordan) and an early Christian see.
With capital initial. A native or inhabitant of Petra, especially in antiquity.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in William Lithgow (1582–c1645), traveller. From classical Latin Petraeus of or coming from Petra in Arabia, inhabitant of Petra (from Petra, the name of the chief town of Arabia Petraea, lit. ‘Arabia the rocky’, a Roman province + -eus: see -eous) + -an.
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