Definition of petrel in English:



  • A seabird related to the shearwaters, typically flying far from land.

    • ‘In Hawaii, cats and dogs as well as the imported mongoose have seriously affected nesting waterbirds and two seabirds - the dark-rumped petrel and Newell's shearwater, according to the National Biological Service.’
    • ‘For me, it will always be a trip of a lifetime, as we were soon surrounded by a bewildering assortment of albatrosses, shearwaters and petrels, each a new species for us.’
    • ‘Albatross, cape pigeons, diving petrels, monymawks, mottled petrels, and sooty shearwaters all took their turns skimming our bow wave for fish.’
    • ‘While there are few wild animals in Iceland, there is abundant birdlife - ducks, geese and, among the many sea-birds I spotted, petrels, puffins, tern, gannets, skuas and shearwaters.’
    • ‘Fulmarus glacialis, a cliff-dwelling, gull-like bird of northern seas and coasts; it belongs to a group of seabirds commonly known as petrels and shearwaters.’


Early 17th century: associated with St Peter, from the bird's habit of flying low with legs dangling, giving the appearance of walking on the water (see Matt. 14:30).