Nearby words

  1. pear haw,
  2. pear psylla,
  3. pear thrips,
  4. pear, prickly,
  5. pear-shaped,
  6. pearl ash,
  7. pearl barley,
  8. pearl blue,
  9. pearl city,
  10. pearl danio


    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 pearl

1300–50; Middle English perle < Middle French < Italian or assumed Vulgar Latin *perla (> German Perle, Old English pærl), for Latin *pernula (> Portuguese perola, perhaps Old Saxon përula), diminutive of Latin perna sea mussel

Related formspearl·er, nounpearl·ish, adjectivepearl·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for cast pearls before swine




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
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

Word Origin for pearl

C14: from Old French, from Vulgar Latin pernula (unattested), from Latin perna sea mussel



noun, verb

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

Word Origin and History for cast pearls before swine


Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for cast pearls before swine




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.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for cast pearls before swine



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.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with cast pearls before swine

cast pearls before swine

Give something of value of someone who won't appreciate it, as in The old professor felt that lecturing on Dante to unruly undergraduates would be casting pearls before swine. This term comes from the New Testament (Matthew 7:6), appearing in Tyndale's translation (1526). It was repeated often by writers from Shakespeare to Dickens and remains current.

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