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[pur-lee] /ˈpɜr li/
adjective, pearlier, pearliest.
like a pearl, especially in being white or lustrous; nacreous:
her pearly teeth.
adorned with or abounding in pearls or mother-of-pearl.
Origin of pearly
late Middle English
First recorded in 1400-50, pearly is from the late Middle English word peerly. See pearl1, -y1
Related forms
pearliness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pearly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The dawn-birds trebled their matin greeting and a pearly flush located the eastern quarter of the sky.

    The Incendiary W. A. (William Augustine) Leahy
  • She laid her cold, pearly hand on his forehead, and stood at his side.

    Macaria Augusta Jane Evans Wilson
  • It showed a fragile, pearly ring, almost diaphanous, hanging tilted against spatial blackness and pinpoint stars.

    The Planet Strappers Raymond Zinke Gallun
  • Her hair was soft and brown, and her cheeks were of a faint, pearly rosiness.

  • Her face was pearly white, and she dreaded the full explanation of what was to come.

    The Solitary Farm Fergus Hume
  • Once more may our eyes be gladdened with the pearly, orient dew!

    Imogen William Godwin
British Dictionary definitions for pearly


adjective pearlier, pearliest
resembling a pearl, esp in lustre
of the colour pearl; pale bluish-grey
decorated with pearls or mother-of-pearl
noun (in Britain) (pl) pearlies
a London costermonger who wears on ceremonial occasions a traditional dress of dark clothes covered with pearl buttons
(pl) the clothes or the buttons themselves
Derived Forms
pearliness, noun
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 pearly

early 15c., from pearl + -y (2). Related: Pearliness. The pearly gates of Heaven (or the New Jerusalem) are attested by 1708, from Rev. 21:21.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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