See more synonyms for oyster on Thesaurus.com
  1. any of several edible, marine, bivalve mollusks of the family Ostreidae, having an irregularly shaped shell, occurring on the bottom or adhering to rocks or other objects in shallow water.
  2. the oyster-shaped bit of dark meat in the front hollow of the side bone of a fowl.
  3. Slang. a closemouthed or uncommunicative person, especially one who keeps secrets well.
  4. something from which a person may extract or derive advantage: The world is my oyster.
  5. oyster white.
verb (used without object)
  1. to dredge for or otherwise take oysters.

Origin of oyster

1325–75; Middle English oistre < Middle French < Latin ostrea < Greek óstreon; see ostracize
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for oyster

Contemporary Examples of oyster

Historical Examples of oyster

  • He has the constitution of a rhinoceros, the digestion of an ostrich, and the concentration of an oyster.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • One morning Gervaise surprised her emptying a basket of oyster shells there.


    Emile Zola

  • Strain in the milk and oyster liquor, and stir and cook well.

    The Skilful Cook

    Mary Harrison

  • Strain in the milk, add the oyster liquor, stir, and cook well.

    The Skilful Cook

    Mary Harrison

  • Otherwise they were canned as the Tricholoma and oyster mushroom.

British Dictionary definitions for oyster


    1. any edible marine bivalve mollusc of the genus Ostrea, having a rough irregularly shaped shell and occurring on the sea bed, mostly in coastal waters
    2. (as modifier)oyster farm; oyster knife
  1. any of various similar and related molluscs, such as the pearl oyster and the saddle oyster (Anomia ephippium)
  2. the oyster-shaped piece of dark meat in the hollow of the pelvic bone of a fowl
  3. something from which advantage, delight, profit, etc, may be derivedthe world is his oyster
  4. informal a very uncommunicative person
  1. (intr) to dredge for, gather, or raise oysters

Word Origin for oyster

C14 oistre, from Old French uistre, from Latin ostrea, from Greek ostreon; related to Greek osteon bone, ostrakon 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 oyster

early 14c., from Old French oistre (Modern French huître), from Latin ostrea, plural or fem. of ostreum "oyster," from Greek ostreon, from PIE *ost- "bone" (see osseous). Related to Greek ostrakon "hard shell" and to osteon "bone."

Why then the world's mine Oyster, which I, with sword will open. [Shakespeare, "The Merry Wives of Windsor," II.ii.2]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with oyster


see world is one's oyster.

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