• synonyms


[oh-puh-les-uh nt]
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  1. exhibiting a play of colors like that of the opal.
  2. having a milky iridescence.
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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

Related Words for opalescent

bright, iridescent, pearly, polychromatic, opaline

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British Dictionary definitions for opalescent


  1. having or emitting an iridescence like that of an opal
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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 opalescent


1813, from opal + -escent.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

opalescent in Medicine


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

opalescent in Science


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