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[oi-ster] /ˈɔɪ stər/
any of several edible, marine, bivalve mollusks of the family Ostreidae, having an irregularly shaped shell, occurring on the bottom or adhering to rocks or other objects in shallow water.
the oyster-shaped bit of dark meat in the front hollow of the side bone of a fowl.
Slang. a closemouthed or uncommunicative person, especially one who keeps secrets well.
something from which a person may extract or derive advantage:
The world is my oyster.
verb (used without object)
to dredge for or otherwise take oysters.
1325-75; Middle English oistre < Middle French < Latin ostrea < Greek óstreon; see ostracize Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for oysters
  • Seashells are the exoskeletons of mollusks such as snails, clams, oysters and many others.
  • Belcher got her start with abalone, a cousin to oysters.
  • Sauté a few oysters in butter until plumped, about two minutes.
  • There is also a thriving fishing industry, providing shrimp and oysters.
  • The first sounded innocuous: six steamed oysters with ginger and scallion.
  • The world's markets become oysters to sample, but the real economy involves daily trials that often lose importance.
  • oysters and mussels will not be able to build shells.
  • The exorbitantly priced shellfish plate recently featured desiccated oysters and lacklustre crab claws.
  • Afterward, the three of them went for champagne and oysters.
  • oysters are five years old before suitable for eating.
British Dictionary definitions for oysters


  1. any edible marine bivalve mollusc of the genus Ostrea, having a rough irregularly shaped shell and occurring on the sea bed, mostly in coastal waters
  2. (as modifier): oyster farm, oyster knife
any of various similar and related molluscs, such as the pearl oyster and the saddle oyster (Anomia ephippium)
the oyster-shaped piece of dark meat in the hollow of the pelvic bone of a fowl
something from which advantage, delight, profit, etc, may be derived: the world is his oyster
(informal) a very uncommunicative person
(intransitive) to dredge for, gather, or raise oysters
Word Origin
C14 oistre, from Old French uistre, from Latin ostrea, from Greek ostreon; related to Greek osteon bone, ostrakon shell
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
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Word Origin and History for oysters



early 14c., from Old French oistre (Modern French huître), from Latin ostrea, plural or fem. of ostreum "oyster," from Greek ostreon, from PIE *ost- "bone" (see osseous). Related to Greek ostrakon "hard shell" and to osteon "bone."

Why then the world's mine Oyster, which I, with sword will open. [Shakespeare, "The Merry Wives of Windsor," II.ii.2]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for oysters
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with oysters


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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