[ kou-ree ]
/ ˈkaʊ ri /


the highly polished, usually brightly colored shell of a marine gastropod of the genus Cypraea, as that of C. moneta (money cowrie), used as money in certain parts of Asia and Africa, or that of C. tigris, used for ornament.
the gastropod itself.

Nearby words

  1. cowpie,
  2. cowpoke,
  3. cowpox,
  4. cowps,
  5. cowpuncher,
  6. cowrite,
  7. cowry,
  8. cowshed,
  9. cowskin,
  10. cowslip

Origin of cowrie

First recorded in 1655–65, cowrie is from the Hindi word kaurī Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cowrie

British Dictionary definitions for cowrie



/ (ˈkaʊrɪ) /

noun plural -ries

any marine gastropod mollusc of the mostly tropical family Cypraeidae, having a glossy brightly marked shell with an elongated opening
the shell of any of these molluscs, esp the shell of Cypraea moneta (money cowry), used as money in parts of Africa and S Asia

Word Origin for cowrie

C17: from Hindi kaurī, from Sanskrit kaparda, of Dravidian origin; related to Tamil kōtu 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

Word Origin and History for cowrie



small shell, used as money in parts of Asia, 1660s, from Hindi and Urdu kauri, from Mahrati kavadi, from Sanskrit kaparda, perhaps related to Tamil kotu "shell."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper