It's petrel, not petrol, when talking about the colour...

(83 Posts)

It's spelt wrongly in all the bloody clothes catalogues. Have they not noticed that petrol, if you spill a drop a fiver's worth is clear?

A petrel, OTOH, is a bird. A blue one. Petrel blue. Can we start a campaign?

FriskyMare Thu 17-Oct-13 16:16:08

Umm...think you are wrong.

Petrol is derived from petroleum which can be a bluish colour (look in the OED)

Isn't a petrel black and white...

hambo Thu 17-Oct-13 16:17:50

i thought petrels were brown??!

Madlizzy Thu 17-Oct-13 16:19:36

Petrels are brown or brown and white, aren't they, whereas petrol is blue?


alarkaspree Thu 17-Oct-13 16:21:31
BananasInNegligees Thu 17-Oct-13 16:22:00

Oh, I'm a bit embarrassed for you OP.

You're wrong.

Apileofballyhoo Thu 17-Oct-13 16:22:47

I believe there is a blue petrel - but I think the colour is petrol blue. I have never seen it written as anything else. Haven't my OED to hand.

MirandaWest Thu 17-Oct-13 16:22:59

I can't get onto either of those links.

[[ here we go - petrel blue]] My DH is a birder.

So, not so fast, bananas smile

RustyBear Thu 17-Oct-13 19:18:00

But the blue petrel is grey, it's really not petrol blue...

iklboo Thu 17-Oct-13 19:25:43

petrol blue

(UK) a greyish blue colour, tinted with green.
Usage notes
Many people erroneously believe that this is a misspelling of petrel blue, and that the term refers to the sea bird. However, the OED gives only this spelling. The term may originally have pertained to petrol-derived compounds such as paraffin, which is often coloured blue.

iklboo Thu 17-Oct-13 19:27:47

Bottom! That posted without my comment on so it sounds all snotty!! Sorry, not my intention - even at my most pedantic.

My dictionary (Collins) gives a difference between petroleum, which it says is greenish-black, and petrol, which is refined petroleum. The stuff we get at the pumps isn't greenish-black. Or blue.

IHatePingu Thu 17-Oct-13 21:07:50

I always assumed that the colour petrol referred to the bluey-purply colour effect you see when petrol is spilled into a puddle.

Here's another pic: here

I see that part of its latin name is cerulea which is blue.

You get the whole rainbow, don't you?

BooItTooJulia Thu 17-Oct-13 21:25:15

Bananas grin

RustyBear Thu 17-Oct-13 21:29:36

Ok, I knew I'd read something about petrol being blue - in Arthur Ransome's 'We didn't mean to go to sea' (published 1937) some children sailed to Holland - when they wanted to fill the boat's engine there was a confusion because paraffin in Holland was called petrol and coloured blue to distinguish it from benzine (which was called petrol in England)

Orangeanddemons Thu 17-Oct-13 21:33:05

Oh, online retailers are always making silly mistakes. Sequences for sequins.....

Maybe for boats it's coloured blue to distinguish it from other clear or pale liquids. But the stuff we get at the petrol station is not blue!

The thing is that when I was a child, that particular steely-blue colour was always petrel blue, then over the years I saw it more often described as petrol. It sort of morphed, which is why I think that the old way is teh correct way.

I'm usually right grin which by the law of averages means that sometimes I must be wrong. I would like to get more info on this. If 'petrol blue' turns out to be the correct spelling, then I will be willing to admit that I've held onto a misinformed belief for a very long time smile.

RustyBear Thu 17-Oct-13 21:43:04

Well, I don't know how old you are, but when I was a child (I'm 57) that colour was always petrol blue. Until I read this thread I have never seen it spelled petrel.

SwedishEdith Thu 17-Oct-13 21:45:17

There used to be Esso Blue which was kerosene. It would have been dyed to distinguish it from taxed fuel.

Hassled Thu 17-Oct-13 21:48:52

I don't care if Miranda is right or wrong - I've learned that there is a name for a shade of bluey grey, and prior to this I had no idea. This thread is a valuable public service.

KellyHopter Thu 17-Oct-13 21:53:20

It was never petrel blue thlgrin

You were just as wrong in the old days as you are now.

Rusty, not quite as old as you grin

Maybe it depends on where you live. But I don't really believe that; more about exposure to certain words/phrases in your school or family.

DisappointedHorse Thu 17-Oct-13 21:54:53

Surely it's just easier to call it teal? grin

SwedishEdith Thu 17-Oct-13 21:57:02

You just want to claim colours are named after birds because you are a Goshawk grin

ouryve Thu 17-Oct-13 21:58:08
OhBuggerandArse Thu 17-Oct-13 21:58:48

I think you're thinking of the wrong colour of blue, that doesn't help.

Petrol blue is sort of dark greeny blue.

OhBuggerandArse Thu 17-Oct-13 22:00:05

(Slightly alarmed by the petrol blue corsets on that link. Why, I ask - why?)

HangingGardenofBabbysBum Thu 17-Oct-13 22:00:12

I also believed it was named for the bird.

Spent a lot if time trying to get my art teacher to say 'blue tit' then sniggering delightedly.

In my world, a petrel is a greyish blue bird, exactly the same colour as my son's eyes.

Gutted I might be wrong...

ZingDollyChops Thu 17-Oct-13 22:06:03

it's petrol blue even in Hungarian (petrol kék).

I've never heard of petrel.confused

VoiceofRaisin Thu 17-Oct-13 22:06:07

Petrol for boats is taxed at a low rate and so is dyed to deter tax evasion. Like tractor fuel is often dyed red for the same reason. Anthraquinone dyes are used for blue shades as they are soluble in hydrocarbons. I wonder why the catalogues don't call it Anthraquinone Blue instead of Petrol Blue? wink

SwedishEdith Thu 17-Oct-13 22:07:46

This is how I see petrol blue

And google Images agrees <definitive>

My school uniform, back in the 90s was petrol blue (bet you are jealous of that beauty...) Always written as petrol blue, not a bird in sight.

I give you:
petrel blue

KellyHopter Thu 17-Oct-13 22:33:29

Oh're right after all

HangingGardenofBabbysBum Thu 17-Oct-13 23:35:27

<flick flacks in, high fives OP, departs triumphantly for ashram waving petrel blue mat aloft.>

Oh yes.

OhBuggerandArse Thu 17-Oct-13 23:36:42


timidviper Thu 17-Oct-13 23:40:51

I have always thought it was petrol blue but then I grew up in a city and wouldn't know a petrel if it pecked me on the arse!

BillyBanter Thu 17-Oct-13 23:41:40

I prefer teal.

Orangeanddemons Fri 18-Oct-13 07:47:26

When I was a menswear designer for 10 years, it was always petrol blue

VoiceofRaisin Fri 18-Oct-13 08:33:57

Miranda, now you know better, I hope you have written to that yoga company telling them of their mistaken spelling wink

nonmifairidere Fri 18-Oct-13 09:19:21

Snowy Petrels are white. I've got a petrel white blouse, don't cha know.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ohmymimi Fri 18-Oct-13 09:36:29

Curses on Muphry - Snow Petrel

Trills Fri 18-Oct-13 09:38:20

I'm afraid that I am going to believe the OED.

ohmymimi Fri 18-Oct-13 09:39:52

Try Googling petrel blue.

Contraryish Fri 18-Oct-13 09:40:57

noun: petrol; noun: petrol blue; plural noun: petrol blues

a light fuel oil that is obtained by distilling petroleum and used in internal-combustion engines.
"petrol fumes"
synonyms:fuel; More
unleaded, superunleaded, diesel;
gasoline, gas;
a shade of greenish or greyish blue.

noun: petrel; plural noun: petrels

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

No colour listed in the dictionary definition of petrel. It's definitely petrol, I'm afraid!

VoiceofRaisin Fri 18-Oct-13 11:45:07

Is the lesson of this thread not to be a spelling fascist because you might be wrong? <massive hypocrite emoticon - I love a spelling thread>

IHatePingu Fri 18-Oct-13 12:07:42

Lunatic, perhaps you should be pouring owl on troubled waters!

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

High five Hanging and Lunatic!

Dictionaries just reflect current usage which may be wrong Ref. new definition of 'literally' hmm

I'm thrilled so many people are contributing to this - I've never seen Pedants' Corner so crowded, so hard to get served at the bar!

Anyway, I'm off for a week to the back of beyond, (East Anglia shock) no computer & only have a thick phone so will leave you all to this & see if anyone comes up with any more thoughts while I'm away.


HangingGardenofBabbysBum Fri 18-Oct-13 17:04:30

Is the lesson of this thread not to be a spelling fascist because you might be wrong? <massive hypocrite emoticon - I love a spelling thread

I have been trying to learn this lesson for THREE DECADES!

conkertheworld Fri 18-Oct-13 18:34:46

I'm afraid petrel blue gets rather hammered in a google fight...

Cooroo Fri 18-Oct-13 19:49:03

Definitely petrol. Posting a link to a commonly misspelled word proves nothing. I used to typeset clothes catalogues and people used to get it wrong then too.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FriskyMare Fri 18-Oct-13 20:37:43


According to QI, kingfishers are actually a murky brown.

<awaits fallout from a safe distance>

ZingDollyChops Fri 18-Oct-13 22:04:02


you mean like Muphry's Law?

(I didn't mis-spell it. Google Muphry's Law)

Never heard it called petrol blue before

Rusty I might just love you, I thought of we didn't mean to go to see too

Miranda - hope you've packed your passport. Us bumpkins don't just let anyone I'm

Even my phone chances it
Never heard of petrel blue before I mean

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BananasInNegligees Sat 19-Oct-13 01:06:21

Aww, OP leaves pedants corner for a holiday.
It's too crowded apparently :-)

No, not at all OP. Fairly quiet to be honest.
Being wrong is tough.
It's ok to admit it.

VoiceofRaisin Sat 19-Oct-13 10:11:04

He, he, I love Muphry's Law! Thanks.

Hey, in the States, is it called "gasoline blue" do you think? Somehow it doesn't have the same ring about it...

I just realised this is in pedants' corner and then reread what I had written in my stupor last night. blush

Blu Sat 19-Oct-13 11:28:49

It's petrol blue

I have always visualised it as a dark grey oily patch of petrol with the blue rainbow reflection as it appears when petrol floats on water.

I think it unlikely that a colour be named after an obscure Hawaiian sub species of blue-greyish petrel.

OP, would you like to take on Farrow and Ball about the endless publicity for their new blue, Stiffkey Blue? They claim that the phrase 'Siffkey Blue' (pro "Stookey Blue") is after the mud on Stiffkey mudflats. It isn't. Any local or regular visitor knows that Stiffkey Blues are the local cockles, dug up on said sand and mud flats. The mud is black!

And even the locals can't agree whether it's said stookey or stiffkey. Same with cley, is it cly or clay?
Is stiffkey blue for people who can't afford to paint their houses in burnham market land rover green?

Blu Sat 19-Oct-13 15:40:47

It's for people who are not cool enough for Morston Car Park Mud Splattered Skoda, I think. wink

<paints the futility room in Happisburgh Shades Of Taupe>


LynetteScavo Sat 19-Oct-13 19:08:39
ohmymimi Sun 20-Oct-13 19:16:35

Just got irrationaly excited that weather lass on 'Countryfile' was wearing a patrol blue card. I definitely spend too much to time on MN.

ohmymimi Sun 20-Oct-13 19:18:20

I've either invented a new colour or Muphry is trolling again.

Patrol blue grin
Don't you just love typos/autocorrect

ohmymimi Sun 20-Oct-13 19:22:20

I've either invented a new colour and itrm of clothing or Muphry is trolling again.

ohmymimi Sun 20-Oct-13 19:23:50

Muffry is stalking me - HELP.

ohmymimi Sun 20-Oct-13 19:25:44

Jayne - love is not the word that comes to mind.

BananasInNegligees Sun 20-Oct-13 22:11:40

Patrol blue could be a colour.
Better than Petrel blue anyhow grin

CatWithKittens Mon 21-Oct-13 09:50:50

Could the answer to all this be that there are in fact two colours and everybody is right, except in saying that they alone are right? By the way there could very well be a Patrol Blue - from the old Army uniform dress colour of very dark navy blue.

gobbin Sun 10-Nov-13 15:45:49

Showing my age now, but anyone over 40 not remember the Esso ad in the 70s that went 'Bum bum bum bum....Esso blue'.

My dad always said that it was because petrol has a blueish tinge to it.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now