[ tawr-tuh s-shel ]
/ ˈtɔr təsˌʃɛl /

noun Also tortoise shell.

a horny substance of a mottled brown and yellow coloration, composing the laminae that cover the inner body plates of the carapace of certain tortoises or turtles, especially the hawksbill, used for making combs and ornamental articles, inlaying, etc.
any synthetic substance made to look like natural tortoiseshell.
Also tortoiseshell butterfly. any of several nymphalid butterflies of the genus Nymphalis, as N. californica, having variegated markings of red, yellow, or orange on the wings.

adjective Also tor·toise-shell.

mottled or variegated like tortoiseshell, especially with yellow and brown and sometimes other colors.
made of tortoiseshell.

Origin of tortoiseshell

First recorded in 1595–1605; tortoise + shell Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for tortoiseshell

British Dictionary definitions for tortoiseshell

/ (ˈtɔːtəsˌʃɛl) /


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