iridescent quality; a play of lustrous, changing colors.

1795–1805; irid- + -escence

noniridescence, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
iridescent (ˌɪrɪˈdɛsənt)
displaying a spectrum of colours that shimmer and change due to interference and scattering as the observer's position changes
[C18: from irido- + -escent]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Britannica


interference of light either at the surface or in the interior of a material that produces a series of colours as the angle of incidence changes. Best known are the colours seen in precious opal resulting from the interference of light by submicroscopic layers of nearly spherical particles 1,500-3,000 angstroms in diameter that are arranged in a regular pattern. Common opal lacks this layering, and scattered light merely gives a milky opalescence. Internal iridescence is due to closely spaced fractures or lamellae such as planes of differing composition caused by exsolution. Most familiar are the colours of labradorite and peristerite resulting from lamellae about 1,000 angstroms thick. Surface iridescence occurs on some ore minerals (e.g., hematite and sphalerite).

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Until now, the wing colors of many flies and wasps were dismissed as random
Color in clouds other than at sunset or sunrise is usually cloud iridescence.
That's because the colors are caused not by pigment but by iridescence.
Inside, the lining has changed from pearly iridescence to smooth, gray stone.
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