[oh-puh-les-uh nt]
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Origin of opalescent

First recorded in 1805–15; opal + -escent
Related formso·pal·es·cence, nouno·pal·es·cent·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for opalescence

Historical Examples of opalescence

British Dictionary definitions for opalescence


  1. having or emitting an iridescence like that of an opal
Derived Formsopalescence, 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

Word Origin and History for opalescence

1792; see opalescent + -ence.



1813, from opal + -escent.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

opalescence in Medicine


  1. Resembling an opal in the display of various colors, often used to describe certain bacterial cultures.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

opalescence in Science


  1. Exhibiting a milky iridescence like that of opal.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.