Definition of petrel in US English:

petrel

noun

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

    Order Procellariiformes, in particular the families Procellariidae (e.g., the giant petrel and pintado petrel) or Hydrobatidae (the storm petrels). See also diving petrel

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’

Origin

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).

Pronunciation

petrel

/ˈpɛtrəl//ˈpetrəl/