mother of pearl

mother-of-pearl

[muhth-er-uhv-purl]
noun
1.
a hard, iridescent substance that forms the inner layer of certain mollusk shells, used for making buttons, beads, etc.; nacre.
adjective
2.
of or having the qualities of mother-of-pearl, as being iridescent or pearly: mother-of-pearl buttons.

Origin:
1500–10; compare Italian madreperla, obsolete French mère perle

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
mother-of-pearl
 
n
Also called: nacre a hard iridescent substance, mostly calcium carbonate, that forms the inner layer of the shells of certain molluscs, such as the oyster. It is used to make buttons, inlay furniture, etcRelated: nacreous
 
Related: nacreous

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

mother of pearl
1510, translating M.L. mater perlarum, with the first element perhaps connected in popular imagination with obsolete mother "a thick substance concreting in liquors; the lees or scum concreted" [Johnson], which is from the root of mud.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
mother-of-pearl  
The hard, smooth, pearly layer on the inside of certain seashells, such as abalones and certain oysters. It is used to make buttons and jewelry. Also called nacre.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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