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[ahy-vuh-ree, ahy-vree] /ˈaɪ və ri, ˈaɪ vri/
noun, plural ivories.
the hard white substance, a variety of dentin, composing the main part of the tusks of the elephant, walrus, etc.
this substance when taken from a dead animal and used to make carvings, billiard balls, etc.
some substance resembling this.
an article made of this substance, as a carving or a billiard ball.
a tusk, as of an elephant.
dentin of any kind.
Slang. a tooth, or the teeth.
ivories, Slang.
  1. the keys of a piano or of a similar keyboard instrument.
  2. dice.
Also called vegetable ivory. the hard endosperm of the ivory nut, used for ornamental purposes, for buttons, etc.
a creamy or yellowish white.
a smooth paper finish produced by coating with beeswax before calendering.
consisting or made of ivory.
of the color ivory.
Origin of ivory
1250-1300; Middle English < Old French ivurie < Latin eboreus (adj.), equivalent to ebor- (stem of ebur) ivory + -eus adj. suffix; see -eous
Related forms
ivorylike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ivory
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There is a kind of beauty that seems made to be painted on ivory, and such was hers.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • Her ivory forehead was wrinkled charmingly in a little frown of obstinacy.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • The first evening they talked of the wonder of the ivory stockade.

    The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White
  • There he made the gold and ivory statue of Zeus that you shall see in Zeus's temple.

    Buried Cities, Part 2 Jennie Hall
  • There was ivory Brown's funeral: how would that have gone on if it hadn't been for her?

    The Village Watch-Tower (AKA Kate Douglas Riggs) Kate Douglas Wiggin
British Dictionary definitions for ivory


/ˈaɪvərɪ; -vrɪ/
noun (pl) -ries
  1. a hard smooth creamy white variety of dentine that makes up a major part of the tusks of elephants, walruses, and similar animals
  2. (as modifier): ivory ornaments
a tusk made of ivory
  1. a yellowish-white colour; cream
  2. (as adjective): ivory shoes
a substance resembling elephant tusk
an ornament, etc, made of ivory
(obsolete) black ivory, Black slaves collectively
See also ivories
Derived Forms
ivory-like, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French ivurie, from Latin evoreus made of ivory, from ebur ivory; related to Greek elephas ivory, elephant


James. born 1928, US film director. With the producer Ismael Merchant, his films include Shakespeare Wallah (1964), Heat and Dust (1983), A Room With a View (1986), and The Golden Bowl (2000)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ivory

mid-13c. (late 12c. as a surname), Anglo-French ivorie, from Old North French ivurie (12c.), from Latin eboreus "of ivory," from ebur (genitive eboris) "ivory," probably via Phoenician from an African source (cf. Egyptian ab "elephant," Coptic ebu "ivory"). Replaced Old English elpendban, literally "elephant bone." Applied in slang to articles made from it, such as dice (1830) and piano keys (1854). As a color, especially in reference to human skin, it is attested from 1580s. Ivories as slang for "teeth" dates from 1782. Related: Ivoried.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ivory in Science
The hard, smooth, yellowish-white substance forming the teeth and tusks of certain animals, such as the tusks of elephants and walruses and the teeth of certain whales. Ivory is composed of dentin.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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