1 [purl]
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.
verb (used with object)
to adorn or stud with or as with pearls.
to make like pearls, as in form or color.
verb (used without object)
to dive, fish, or search for pearls.
to assume a pearllike form or appearance.
resembling a pearl in form or color.
of or pertaining 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.

1300–50; Middle English perle < Middle French < Italian or assumed Vulgar Latin *perla (> German Perle, Old English pærl), for Latin *pernula (> Portuguese perola, perhaps Old Saxon përula), diminutive of Latin perna sea mussel

pearler, noun
pearlish, adjective
pearllike, adjective Unabridged


2 [purl]
verb (used with object), verb (used without object), noun


a town in central Mississippi.
a female given name. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To PEARL
World English Dictionary
pearl1 (pɜːl)
1.  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: margaric, margaritic
2.  any artificial gem resembling this
3.  See mother-of-pearl
4.  a person or thing that is like a pearl, esp in beauty or value
5.  a pale greyish-white colour, often with a bluish tinge
6.  a size of printer's type, approximately equal to 5 point
7.  of, made of, or set with pearl or mother-of-pearl
8.  having the shape or colour of a pearl
9.  (tr) to set with or as if with pearls
10.  to shape into or assume a pearl-like form or colour
11.  (intr) to dive or search for pearls
Related: margaric, margaritic
[C14: from Old French, from Vulgar Latin pernula (unattested), from Latin perna sea mussel]

pearl2 (pɜːl)
n, —vb
purl purl a variant spelling of purl

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

1258, from O.Fr. perle (13c.), M.L. perla (1244), of unknown origin. Perhaps from V.L. *pernula, dim. of L. perna in Sicily, "pearl," earlier "sea-mussel," lit. "ham," so called for the shape of the mollusk shells. Another theory connects it with the root of pear, also somehow
based on shape. The usual L. word for "pearl" was margarita. Pearl Harbor translates Hawaiian Wai Momi, lit. "pearl waters," so named for the pearl oysters found there; transf. sense of "effective sudden attack" is attested from 1942 (in ref. to Dec. 7, 1941).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

pearl (pûrl)

  1. 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.

  2. Any of a number of small tough masses of mucus occurring in the sputum in asthma.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Science Dictionary
pearl   (pûrl)  Pronunciation Key 
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.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Computing Dictionary

PEARL definition

1. A language for constructive mathematics developed by Constable at Cornell University in the 1980s.
2. Process and Experiment Automation Real-Time Language.
3. One of five pedagogical languages based on Markov algorithms, used in "Nonpareil, a Machine Level Machine Independent Language for the Study of Semantics", B. Higman, ULICS Intl Report No ICSI 170, U London (1968). Compare Brilliant, Diamond, Nonpareil, Ruby.
4. A multilevel language developed by Brian Randell ca 1970 and mentioned in "Machine Oriented Higher Level Languages", W. van der Poel, N-H 1974.
5. An obsolete term for Larry Wall's PERL programming language, which never fell into common usage other than in typographical errors. The missing 'a' remains as an atrophied remnant in the expansion "Practical Extraction and Report Language".
["Programming Perl", Larry Wall and Randal L. Schwartz, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. Sebastopol, CA. ISBN 0-93715-64-1].
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
Cite This Source
Bible Dictionary

Pearl definition

(Heb. gabish, Job 28:18; Gr. margarites, Matt. 7:6; 13:46; Rev. 21:21). The pearl oyster is found in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. Its shell is the "mother of pearl," which is of great value for ornamental purposes (1 Tim. 2:9; Rev. 17:4). Each shell contains eight or ten pearls of various sizes.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
Cite This Source
Example sentences
And there are sumptuous jewels, among them a glorious salamander pendant, its
  body made of a fat baroque pearl.
Foliage and arching growth suggest the related spirea, but pearl bush has
  larger individual blossoms.
Pearl dace mature more slowly than minnows and can outlive them by several
Pearl gray foliage and clusters of lavender to pu more add to my plant list.
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature