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

82 replies

MirandaGoshawk · 17/10/2013 16:10

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?

OP posts:
FriskyMare · 17/10/2013 16:16

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 · 17/10/2013 16:17

i thought petrels were brown??!

Mabelface · 17/10/2013 16:19

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

BunnyLebowski · 17/10/2013 16:20


BananasInNegligees · 17/10/2013 16:22

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

You're wrong.

Apileofballyhoo · 17/10/2013 16:22

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 · 17/10/2013 16:22
MirandaGoshawk · 17/10/2013 19:08

So, not so fast, bananas Smile

OP posts:
RustyBear · 17/10/2013 19:18

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

iklboo · 17/10/2013 19:25

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 · 17/10/2013 19:27

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

MirandaGoshawk · 17/10/2013 21:04

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.

OP posts:
IHatePingu · 17/10/2013 21:07

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

MirandaGoshawk · 17/10/2013 21:15

Here's another pic: here

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

OP posts:
MirandaGoshawk · 17/10/2013 21:16

You get the whole rainbow, don't you?

OP posts:
BooItTooJulia · 17/10/2013 21:25

Bananas Grin

RustyBear · 17/10/2013 21:29

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 · 17/10/2013 21:33

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

MirandaGoshawk · 17/10/2013 21:37

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.

OP posts:
RustyBear · 17/10/2013 21:43

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 · 17/10/2013 21:45

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

Hassled · 17/10/2013 21:48

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.

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