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[oi-ster] /ˈɔɪ stər/
any of several edible, marine, bivalve mollusks of the family Ostreidae, having an irregularly shaped shell, occurring on the bottom or adhering to rocks or other objects in shallow water.
the oyster-shaped bit of dark meat in the front hollow of the side bone of a fowl.
Slang. a closemouthed or uncommunicative person, especially one who keeps secrets well.
something from which a person may extract or derive advantage:
The world is my oyster.
verb (used without object)
to dredge for or otherwise take oysters.
Origin of oyster
1325-75; Middle English oistre < Middle French < Latin ostrea < Greek óstreon; see ostracize Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for oyster
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Serve with rich Espagnole sauce or oyster sauce on a croustade of potato.

    Dressed Game and Poultry la Mode Harriet A. de Salis
  • Edmund knew where we were going, but he was as close-mouthed as an oyster.

    Ben Comee M. J. (Michael Joseph) Canavan
  • No time was lost in useless lamentations over the body of this man, who was much of a favourite among the oyster Ponders.

    The Sea Lions James Fenimore Cooper
  • The mysteries, dangers, and delights of the sea do not exist for the oyster.

    Fantazius Mallare Ben Hecht
  • The stranded wreck was his, and his people's; while the other wreck belonged to the men from oyster Pond.

    The Sea Lions James Fenimore Cooper
British Dictionary definitions for oyster


  1. any edible marine bivalve mollusc of the genus Ostrea, having a rough irregularly shaped shell and occurring on the sea bed, mostly in coastal waters
  2. (as modifier): oyster farm, oyster knife
any of various similar and related molluscs, such as the pearl oyster and the saddle oyster (Anomia ephippium)
the oyster-shaped piece of dark meat in the hollow of the pelvic bone of a fowl
something from which advantage, delight, profit, etc, may be derived: the world is his oyster
(informal) a very uncommunicative person
(intransitive) to dredge for, gather, or raise oysters
Word Origin
C14 oistre, from Old French uistre, from Latin ostrea, from Greek ostreon; related to Greek osteon bone, ostrakon shell
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 oyster

early 14c., from Old French oistre (Modern French huître), from Latin ostrea, plural or fem. of ostreum "oyster," from Greek ostreon, from PIE *ost- "bone" (see osseous). Related to Greek ostrakon "hard shell" and to osteon "bone."

Why then the world's mine Oyster, which I, with sword will open. [Shakespeare, "The Merry Wives of Windsor," II.ii.2]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for oyster
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with oyster


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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