American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A tube-shaped optical instrument that is rotated to produce a succession of symmetrical designs by means of mirrors reflecting the constantly changing patterns made by bits of colored glass at one end of the tube.
- n. A constantly changing set of colors.
- n. A series of changing phases or events: a kaleidoscope of illusions.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. An optical instrument creating and exhibiting, by reflection, a variety of beautiful colors and symmetrical forms. In its simplest form the instrument consists of a tube containing two reflecting surfaces inclined toward each other at any angle which is an aliquot part of 360°. A clear eye-glass is placed immediately against one end of the mirrors and a similar glass at their other end; the tube is continued a little beyond this second glass, and its termination is closed by a disk of ground glass. In the cell thus formed are placed beads, pieces of colored glass, or other small, bright-colored, diaphanous objects, and the changing of their positions by rotating the tube produces, by the repeated reflection in the mirrors, different symmetrical figures. The polyangular kaleidoscope multiplies the effect by having three or four mirrors; a larger number destroys the symmetry of combination. Besides the use of the kaleidoscope as a toy, it serves the practical purpose of furnishing an endless variety of patterns for decorative work. Sir David Brewster invented the instrument about 1815, although the idea of it had been vaguely suggested before. He also made it applicable to distant objects by replacing the object-box at the outer end with a double-convex lens, controlled by an adjusting-screw.
- n. A tube of mirrors containing loose coloured beads etc. that is rotated to produce a succession of symmetrical designs
- n. A constantly changing set of colours, or other things
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. An instrument invented by Sir David Brewster, which contains loose fragments of colored glass, etc., and reflecting surfaces so arranged that changes of position exhibit its contents in an endless variety of beautiful colors and symmetrical forms. It has been much employed in arts of design.
- n. a complex pattern of constantly changing colors and shapes
- n. an optical toy in a tube; it produces symmetrical patterns as bits of colored glass are reflected by mirrors
- From Ancient Greek καλός (kalos, "beautiful") + εἶδος (eidos, "shape") (compare -oid) + -scope. Coined 1817, by David Brewster, its inventor. (Wiktionary)
- Greek kalos, beautiful + eidos, form; see weid- in Indo-European roots + -scope. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“When in motion, a kaleidoscope is produced which would make a peacock envious.”
“So far today we have examined the economic kaleidoscope from a perspective of macroeconomics - that's a buzzword favoured by economists looking at the big picture.”
“It was displayed in kaleidoscope for all the world to see at those Diamond Jubilee celebrations, in which men in varied uniforms gathered from all the far corners of the seven seas to march in procession and do honour to the great Queen Empress.”
“Verily the French kaleidoscope is very prettily turned!”
“A self-described "Missoni junkie," Mr. Jones lauded the family for their designs characterized by a "kaleidoscope of bold hues, zigzags, stripes, waves, flames, geometric patchworks and floral jacquards.”
“Boutrous refers to a "kaleidoscope of claims, defenses, issues, locales, events and individuals" that he will tell the justices simply cannot be folded into a single class-action case.”
“Somewhere in the kaleidoscope is the observation that, possibly for the first time in its history, The Daily Telegraph carried less news on its front page than The Sun.”
“Whistler, or a good Japanese print, might be described as a kaleidoscope suddenly arrested and transfixed at the moment of most exquisite relations in the pieces of glass.”
“Many other pleasing examples could be cited if further turnings of the kaleidoscope were a real need, but this slender discourse is as long now as it should be.”
“A kaleidoscope is the tool that helps make sense of the mess.”
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