Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A smooth, lustrous, variously colored deposit, chiefly calcium carbonate, formed around a grain of sand or other foreign matter in the shells of certain mollusks and valued as a gem.
  • n. Mother-of-pearl; nacre.
  • n. One that is highly regarded for its beauty or value.
  • n. Printing A type size measuring approximately five points.
  • n. A yellowish white.
  • transitive v. To decorate or cover with or as if with pearls.
  • transitive v. To make into the shape or color of pearls.
  • intransitive v. To dive or fish for pearls or pearl-bearing mollusks.
  • intransitive v. To form beads resembling pearls.
  • v. Variant of purl2.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A shelly concretion, usually rounded, and having a brilliant luster, with varying tints, found in the mantle, or between the mantle and shell, of certain bivalve mollusks, especially in the pearl oysters and river mussels, and sometimes in certain univalves. It is usually due to a secretion of shelly substance around some irritating foreign particle. Its substance is the same as nacre, or mother-of-pearl. Pearls which are round, or nearly round, and of fine luster, are highly esteemed as jewels, and compare in value with the precious stones.
  • n. Something precious.
  • n. A capsule of gelatin or similar substance containing liquid for e.g. medicinal application.
  • n. Nacre, or mother-of-pearl.
  • n. A whitish speck or film on the eye.
  • n. A fish allied to the turbot; the brill.
  • n. A light-colored tern.
  • n. One of the circle of tubercles which form the bur on a deer's antler.
  • n. Five-point size of type, between agate and diamond.
  • n. A fringe or border.
  • v. To set or adorn with pearls, or with mother-of-pearl. Used also figuratively.
  • v. To cause to resemble pearls; to make into small round grains; as, to pearl barley.
  • v. To resemble pearl or pearls.
  • v. To give or hunt for pearls; as, to go pearling.
  • v. to dig the nose of one's surfboard into the water, often on takeoff.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to pearl or pearls; made of pearls, or of mother-of-pearl.
  • n. A fringe or border.
  • n. A shelly concretion, usually rounded, and having a brilliant luster, with varying tints, found in the mantle, or between the mantle and shell, of certain bivalve mollusks, especially in the pearl oysters and river mussels, and sometimes in certain univalves. It is usually due to a secretion of shelly substance around some irritating foreign particle. Its substance is the same as nacre, or mother-of-pearl.
  • n. Hence, figuratively, something resembling a pearl; something very precious.
  • n. Nacre, or mother-of-pearl.
  • n. A fish allied to the turbot; the brill.
  • n. A light-colored tern.
  • n. One of the circle of tubercles which form the bur on a deer's antler.
  • n. A whitish speck or film on the eye.
  • n. A capsule of gelatin or similar substance containing some liquid for medicinal application, as ether.
  • n. A size of type, between agate and diamond.
  • intransitive v. To resemble pearl or pearls.
  • intransitive v. To dive or hunt for pearls.
  • transitive v. To set or adorn with pearls, or with mother-of-pearl. Used also figuratively.
  • transitive v. To cause to resemble pearls; to make into small round grains.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To adorn, set, or stud with pearls.
  • To make into a form, or to cause to assume an appearance, resembling that of pearls: as, to pearl barley (by rubbing off the pulp and grinding the berries to a rounded shape); to pearl comfits (by causing melted sugar to harden around the kernels, thus forming small rounded pellets).
  • To resemble pearls.
  • To take a rounded form, as a drop of liquid: as, quicksilver pearls when dropped in small quantities.
  • To assume a resemblance to pearls, or the shape of pearls, as barley or comfits.
  • n. A nacreous concretion, or separate mass of nacre, of hard, smooth, lustrous texture, and a rounded, oval, pear-shaped, or irregular figure, secreted within the shells of various bivalve mollusks as a result of the irritation caused by the presence of some foreign body, as a grain of sand, within the mantle-lobes.
  • n. Anything very valuable; the choicest or best part; a jewel; the finest of its kind.
  • n. Something round and clear, as a drop of water or dew; any small granule or globule resembling a pearl; specifically, in pharmacy, a small pill or pellet containing or consisting of some medicinal substance.
  • n. A white speck or film growing on the eye; cataract.
  • n. Mother-of-pearl; nacre: as, a pearl button.
  • n. A size of printing-type, about 15 lines to the inch, intermediate between the larger size agate and the smaller size diamond: it is equal to 5 points, and is so distinguished in the new system of sizes.
  • n. This line is printed in pearl.
  • n. In heraldry: A small ball argent, not only as a bearing but as part of a coronet.
  • n. The color white.
  • n. One of the bony tubercles which form a rough circle round the base of a deer's antler, called collectively the bur.
  • n. In entomology, a name of many pyralid moths; any pearl-moth.
  • n. A fish, the prill or brill: perhaps so called from the light spots, otherwise probably a transposed form of prill.
  • n. Eccles., a name sometimes given to a particle of the consecrated wafer: still current in the Oriental Church.
  • n. A name given by gilders and manufacturers of jewelry to granules of metal produced by melting it to extreme fluidity, and then pouring it into cold water.
  • n. In lace- and ribbon-making, one of the loops which form the outer edge. Also purl.
  • n. In decorative art. See purl.
  • n. In ship-rigging, one of the bull's-eye rollers strung on the round iron band which spans the forward part of the gaff on fore-and-aft vessels, and which assist in the smooth hoisting of the spar, as well as confining it to the mast.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a shade of white the color of bleached bones
  • n. a smooth lustrous round structure inside the shell of a clam or oyster; much valued as a jewel
  • v. gather pearls, from oysters in the ocean
  • n. a shape that is spherical and small

Etymologies

Middle English perle, from Old French, from Latin *pernula, diminutive of perna, ham, seashell (from the shape of the shell).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French perle, from Medieval Latin perla. The surfing sense is from “pearl diving”, it being imagined the surfer is diving down for pearls. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • 'Pearl's a singer' - Elkie Brooks.

    February 8, 2008