- a smooth, rounded bead formed within the shells of certain mollusks and composed of the mineral aragonite or calcite in a matrix, deposited in concentric layers as a protective coating around an irritating foreign object: valued as a gem when lustrous and finely colored.Compare cultured pearl.
- something resembling this, as various synthetic substances for use in costume jewelry.
- something similar in form, luster, etc., as a dewdrop or a capsule of medicine.
- something precious or choice; the finest example of anything: pearls of wisdom.
- a very pale gray approaching white but commonly with a bluish tinge.
- mother-of-pearl: a pearl-handled revolver.
- Printing. a 5-point type.
- Also called epithelial pearl. Pathology. a rounded mass of keratin occurring in certain carcinomas of the skin.
- to adorn or stud with or as with pearls.
- to make like pearls, as in form or color.
- to dive, fish, or search for pearls.
- to assume a pearllike form or appearance.
- resembling a pearl in form or color.
- of or relating to pearls: pearl diving.
- set with a pearl or pearls or covered or inlaid with pearls or mother-of-pearl: a pearl necklace.
- having or reduced to small, rounded grains.
- cast pearls before swine, to offer or give something of great value to those incapable of appreciating it: She read them Shakespeare but it was casting pearls before swine.
Origin of pearl1
- a town in central Mississippi.
- a female given name.
- to knit with a reverse stitch.
- to finish with loops or a looped edging.
- a basic stitch in knitting, the reverse of the knit, formed by pulling a loop of the working yarn back through an existing stitch and then slipping that stitch off the needle.Compare knit(def 11).
- one of a series of small loops along the edge of lace braid.
- thread made of twisted gold or silver wire.
Origin of purl1
Examples from the Web for pearls
Later in the film, when she comes on wearing a strand of pearls, he snorts, “She looks like the queen.”Alfred Hitchcock’s Fade to Black: The Great Director’s Final Days
December 13, 2014
Caligula drank “pearls of great price dissolved in vinegar.”An Ivy League Frat Boy’s Shallow Repentance
November 24, 2014
Both have elicited the same hand wringing and pearls clutching.Dissed By Her Doctor for Wanting HIV Protection
September 6, 2014
Plenty of us women were enjoying the same behavior (clutch your pearls); it was fun.Dear Princeton Mom, Stop Telling Me To Husband-Hunt
February 14, 2014
Miller first appeared on the cover of Vogue in 1927 in a blue hat and pearls, drawn by renowned French illustrator Georges Lepape.‘Lee Miller in Fashion’: A Look at the Famed War Photographer’s More Unknown Work
October 7, 2013
And the pearls, the young chief's necklace, what became of that?The Trail Book
"I've been a fool," said Eileen, tugging at the pearls viciously.
We are not feasting on baked swans, peacock tongues and drinking our pearls.
Cecilia wore a silver crown, in which glistened the most brilliant of pearls.The Dream
And with a low bow he handed to her a beautiful necklace of pearls.Fair Margaret
H. Rider Haggard
- a hard smooth lustrous typically rounded structure occurring on the inner surface of the shell of a clam or oyster: consists of calcium carbonate secreted in layers around an invading particle such as a sand grain; much valued as a gemRelated adjectives: margaric, margaritic
- any artificial gem resembling this
- See mother-of-pearl
- a person or thing that is like a pearl, esp in beauty or value
- a pale greyish-white colour, often with a bluish tinge
- a size of printer's type, approximately equal to 5 point
- of, made of, or set with pearl or mother-of-pearl
- having the shape or colour of a pearl
- (tr) to set with or as if with pearls
- to shape into or assume a pearl-like form or colour
- (intr) to dive or search for pearls
- Also called: purl stitch a knitting stitch made by doing a plain stitch backwards
- a decorative border, as of lace
- gold or silver wire thread
- to knit (a row or garment) in purl stitch
- to edge (something) with a purl
- (intr) (of a stream, etc) to flow with a gentle curling or rippling movement and a murmuring sound
- a curling movement of water; eddy
- a murmuring sound, as of a shallow stream
Word Origin and History for pearls
mid-13c., from Old French perle (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin perla (mid-13c.), of unknown origin. Perhaps from Vulgar Latin *pernula, diminutive of Latin perna, which in Sicily meant "pearl," earlier "sea-mussel," literally "ham, haunch, gammon," so called for the shape of the mollusk shells.
For pearls before swine, see swine. Pearl Harbor translates Hawaiian Wai Momi, literally "pearl waters," so named for the pearl oysters found there; transferred sense of "effective sudden attack" is attested from 1942 (in reference to Dec. 7, 1941).
"knit with inverted stitches," 1825; earlier "embroider with gold or silver thread" (1520s), probably from Middle English pirlyng "revolving, twisting," of unknown origin. The two senses usually are taken as one word, but even this is not certain. Klein suggests a source in Italian pirolare "to twirl," from pirolo "top." As a noun, from late 14c. as "bordering, frills," 1530s as "twisted thread of gold and silver."
"flow with a murmuring sound," 1580s, imitative, perhaps from a Scandinavian language. Related: Purled; purling.
- A small sphere of thin glass containing amyl nitrite or other volatile fluid, designed to be crushed, as in a handkerchief, so that its contents can be inhaled.
- Any of a number of small tough masses of mucus occurring in the sputum in asthma.
- A smooth, slightly iridescent, white or grayish rounded growth inside the shells of some mollusks. Pearls form as a reaction to the presence of a foreign particle, and consist of thin layers of mother-of-pearl that are deposited around the particle. The pearls of oysters are often valued as gems.
Idioms and Phrases with pearls
see cast pearls before swine.