- a smooth, rounded bead formed within the shells of certain mollusks and composed of the mineral aragonite or calcite in a matrix, deposited in concentric layers as a protective coating around an irritating foreign object: valued as a gem when lustrous and finely colored.Compare cultured pearl.
- something resembling this, as various synthetic substances for use in costume jewelry.
- something similar in form, luster, etc., as a dewdrop or a capsule of medicine.
- something precious or choice; the finest example of anything: pearls of wisdom.
- a very pale gray approaching white but commonly with a bluish tinge.
- mother-of-pearl: a pearl-handled revolver.
- Printing. a 5-point type.
- Also called epithelial pearl. Pathology. a rounded mass of keratin occurring in certain carcinomas of the skin.
- to adorn or stud with or as with pearls.
- to make like pearls, as in form or color.
- to dive, fish, or search for pearls.
- to assume a pearllike form or appearance.
- resembling a pearl in form or color.
- of or relating to pearls: pearl diving.
- set with a pearl or pearls or covered or inlaid with pearls or mother-of-pearl: a pearl necklace.
- having or reduced to small, rounded grains.
- cast pearls before swine, to offer or give something of great value to those incapable of appreciating it: She read them Shakespeare but it was casting pearls before swine.
Origin of pearl1
- a town in central Mississippi.
- a female given name.
- to knit with a reverse stitch.
- to finish with loops or a looped edging.
- a basic stitch in knitting, the reverse of the knit, formed by pulling a loop of the working yarn back through an existing stitch and then slipping that stitch off the needle.Compare knit(def 11).
- one of a series of small loops along the edge of lace braid.
- thread made of twisted gold or silver wire.
Origin of purl1
Examples from the Web for pearl
What was America supposed to do after Pearl Harbor, put the keys to the Golden Gate in an airmail envelope and send them to Tojo?Up To A Point: What We Really Need Is a Nobel War Prize
P. J. O’Rourke
October 11, 2014
In 1882, the Pearl Street station, in lower Manhattan, went on line, with 59 customers – mostly businesses and factories.From Edison to Jobs
The Daily Beast
September 25, 2014
But after Pearl Harbor there was no longer a case for special pleading.Blood and War: The Hard Truth About ‘Boots on the Ground’
September 22, 2014
At halftime somebody had come into the dressing room and told us Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japs.Football Great Bob Suffridge Wanders Through the End Zone of Life
September 6, 2014
The artist quickly blamed event organizers, and he even criticized the band Pearl Jam for making him late.Living by the Bonnaroo Code
Daniel G. Hill
June 12, 2014
He compares it to little things, to a tiny seed, to a handful of leaven, to a pearl.De Profundis
"Just about as much as I gave you that pearl pin," retorted Kirkwood hotly.The Black Bag
Louis Joseph Vance
You shake it; it's the pearl stud there was last year—that's all.Monday or Tuesday
Pearl Barley Water is made of an ounce of pearl barley, heated in half a pint of water over the fire in order to clean it.
Ourn was a shrewd rascal and nothing more nor less than a pearl poacher.Cape Cod Stories
Joseph C. Lincoln
- a hard smooth lustrous typically rounded structure occurring on the inner surface of the shell of a clam or oyster: consists of calcium carbonate secreted in layers around an invading particle such as a sand grain; much valued as a gemRelated adjectives: margaric, margaritic
- any artificial gem resembling this
- See mother-of-pearl
- a person or thing that is like a pearl, esp in beauty or value
- a pale greyish-white colour, often with a bluish tinge
- a size of printer's type, approximately equal to 5 point
- of, made of, or set with pearl or mother-of-pearl
- having the shape or colour of a pearl
- (tr) to set with or as if with pearls
- to shape into or assume a pearl-like form or colour
- (intr) to dive or search for pearls
- Also called: purl stitch a knitting stitch made by doing a plain stitch backwards
- a decorative border, as of lace
- gold or silver wire thread
- to knit (a row or garment) in purl stitch
- to edge (something) with a purl
- (intr) (of a stream, etc) to flow with a gentle curling or rippling movement and a murmuring sound
- a curling movement of water; eddy
- a murmuring sound, as of a shallow stream
Word Origin and History for pearl
mid-13c., from Old French perle (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin perla (mid-13c.), of unknown origin. Perhaps from Vulgar Latin *pernula, diminutive of Latin perna, which in Sicily meant "pearl," earlier "sea-mussel," literally "ham, haunch, gammon," so called for the shape of the mollusk shells.
For pearls before swine, see swine. Pearl Harbor translates Hawaiian Wai Momi, literally "pearl waters," so named for the pearl oysters found there; transferred sense of "effective sudden attack" is attested from 1942 (in reference to Dec. 7, 1941).
"knit with inverted stitches," 1825; earlier "embroider with gold or silver thread" (1520s), probably from Middle English pirlyng "revolving, twisting," of unknown origin. The two senses usually are taken as one word, but even this is not certain. Klein suggests a source in Italian pirolare "to twirl," from pirolo "top." As a noun, from late 14c. as "bordering, frills," 1530s as "twisted thread of gold and silver."
"flow with a murmuring sound," 1580s, imitative, perhaps from a Scandinavian language. Related: Purled; purling.
- A small sphere of thin glass containing amyl nitrite or other volatile fluid, designed to be crushed, as in a handkerchief, so that its contents can be inhaled.
- Any of a number of small tough masses of mucus occurring in the sputum in asthma.
- A smooth, slightly iridescent, white or grayish rounded growth inside the shells of some mollusks. Pearls form as a reaction to the presence of a foreign particle, and consist of thin layers of mother-of-pearl that are deposited around the particle. The pearls of oysters are often valued as gems.