noun, plural irises, irides [ir-i-deez, ahy-ri-] .
Anatomy. the contractile, circular diaphragm forming the colored portion of the eye and containing a circular opening, the pupil, in its center. See diag. under eye.
Botany. any plant of the genus Iris, having showy flowers and sword-shaped leaves. Compare iris family.
a flower of this plant.
(initial capital letter) Classical Mythology. a messenger of the gods, regarded as the goddess of the rainbow.
a rainbow.
any appearance resembling a rainbow.
Movies, Television. an iris-in or iris-out.
Optics, Photography, iris diaphragm.
verb (used without object)
Movies. to begin or end a take or scene with an iris-in or iris-out, achieved by manipulation of an iris diaphragm on the camera or by editing the film.

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin Īris, īris < Greek Îris, îris rainbow, goddess of the rainbow, halo, iris flower or root, iridescent crystal; in some senses < Neo-Latin < Greek: diaphragm of eye Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
iris (ˈaɪrɪs)
n , pl irises, irides
1.  the coloured muscular diaphragm that surrounds and controls the size of the pupil
2.  flag orris See also stinking iris Also called: fleur-de-lys any plant of the iridaceous genus Iris, having brightly coloured flowers composed of three petals and three drooping sepals
3.  Also called: rainbow quartz a form of quartz that reflects light polychromatically from internal fractures
4.  a rare or poetic word for rainbow
5.  something resembling a rainbow; iridescence
6.  short for iris diaphragm
[C14: from Latin: rainbow, iris (flower), crystal, from Greek]

Iris (ˈaɪrɪs)
the goddess of the rainbow along which she travelled to earth as a messenger of the gods

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., "prismatic rock crystal," from L. iris (pl. irides) "iris of the eye, iris plant, rainbow," from Gk. iris (gen. iridos) "a lily, iris of the eye," originally "messenger of the gods," personified as the rainbow. The eye region was so called (1520s in English) for being the colored part.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

iris i·ris (ī'rĭs)
n. pl. i·ris·es or i·ri·des (ī'rĭ-dēz', ĭr'ĭ-)
The round pigmented contractile membrane of the eye that is perforated in the center by the pupil, forms the front part of the vascular tunic, and is attached on the margin to the ciliary body.

i'ri·dal (ī'rĭ-dl, ĭr'ĭ-) or i·rid'i·al (ī-rĭd'ē-əl, ĭ-rĭd'-) or i·rid'i·an adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
iris   (ī'rĭs)  Pronunciation Key 
Plural irises or irides (ī'rĭ-dēz', ĭr'ĭ-)
The colored, muscular ring around the pupil of the eye in vertebrate animals, located between the cornea and lens. Contraction and expansion of the iris controls the size of the pupil, thereby regulating the amount of light reaching the retina.
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Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
iris [(eye-ris)]

The colored membrane of the eye, surrounding the pupil, which by contracting and expanding regulates the amount of light that enters the eye.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
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Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Abbreviations & Acronyms
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