[ahy-vuh-ree, ahy-vree]
See more synonyms for ivory on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural i·vo·ries.
  1. the hard white substance, a variety of dentin, composing the main part of the tusks of the elephant, walrus, etc.
  2. this substance when taken from a dead animal and used to make carvings, billiard balls, etc.
  3. some substance resembling this.
  4. an article made of this substance, as a carving or a billiard ball.
  5. a tusk, as of an elephant.
  6. dentin of any kind.
  7. Slang. a tooth, or the teeth.
  8. ivories, Slang.
    1. the keys of a piano or of a similar keyboard instrument.
    2. dice.
  9. Also called vegetable ivory. the hard endosperm of the ivory nut, used for ornamental purposes, for buttons, etc.
  10. a creamy or yellowish white.
  11. a smooth paper finish produced by coating with beeswax before calendering.
  1. consisting or made of ivory.
  2. of the color ivory.

Origin of ivory

1250–1300; Middle English < Old French ivurie < Latin eboreus (adj.), equivalent to ebor- (stem of ebur) ivory + -eus adj. suffix; see -eous
Related formsi·vo·ry·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ivory

Contemporary Examples of ivory

Historical Examples of ivory

  • There is a kind of beauty that seems made to be painted on ivory, and such was hers.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • Her ivory forehead was wrinkled charmingly in a little frown of obstinacy.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • The first evening they talked of the wonder of the ivory stockade.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • There he made the gold and ivory statue of Zeus that you shall see in Zeus's temple.

  • There was Ivory Brown's funeral: how would that have gone on if it hadn't been for her?

    The Village Watch-Tower

    (AKA Kate Douglas Riggs) Kate Douglas Wiggin

British Dictionary definitions for ivory


noun plural -ries
    1. a hard smooth creamy white variety of dentine that makes up a major part of the tusks of elephants, walruses, and similar animals
    2. (as modifier)ivory ornaments
  1. a tusk made of ivory
    1. a yellowish-white colour; cream
    2. (as adjective)ivory shoes
  2. a substance resembling elephant tusk
  3. an ornament, etc, made of ivory
  4. black ivory obsolete Black slaves collectively
See also ivories
Derived Formsivory-like, adjective

Word Origin for ivory

C13: from Old French ivurie, from Latin evoreus made of ivory, from ebur ivory; related to Greek elephas ivory, elephant


  1. James. born 1928, US film director. With the producer Ismael Merchant, his films include Shakespeare Wallah (1964), Heat and Dust (1983), A Room With a View (1986), and The Golden Bowl (2000)
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 ivory

mid-13c. (late 12c. as a surname), Anglo-French ivorie, from Old North French ivurie (12c.), from Latin eboreus "of ivory," from ebur (genitive eboris) "ivory," probably via Phoenician from an African source (cf. Egyptian ab "elephant," Coptic ebu "ivory"). Replaced Old English elpendban, literally "elephant bone." Applied in slang to articles made from it, such as dice (1830) and piano keys (1854). As a color, especially in reference to human skin, it is attested from 1580s. Ivories as slang for "teeth" dates from 1782. Related: Ivoried.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

ivory in Science


  1. The hard, smooth, yellowish-white substance forming the teeth and tusks of certain animals, such as the tusks of elephants and walruses and the teeth of certain whales. Ivory is composed of dentin.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.