Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The outer shell, or one of the scutes or scales, of certain sea-turtles or marine chelonians, especially of Eretmochelys imbricata, the hawk's-bill turtle, or caret, a species which inhabits tropical seas. These horny scales or plates, which cover the carapace in regular and symmetrical pieces, are a specially thickened epidermis, of beautifully mottled and clouded coloration, and of quite different character from the underlying bones of the shell. Similar epidermal scutes cover most tortoises or turtles, but tortoise-shell is mainly restricted to such as have commercial value. These scales are extensively used in the manufacture of combs, snuff-boxes, etc., and in inlaying and other ornamental work. They become very plastic when heated, and when cold retain with sharpness any form they may be molded to in the heated state. Pieces can also be welded together under the pressure of hot irons. The quality of tortoise-shell depends mainly on the thickness and size of the scales, and in a smaller degree upon the clearness and brilliancy of the colors. The best tortoise-shell is that obtained in the Indian archipelago. It is now largely imitated in horn, and in artificial compounds of much less cost. See cuts under carapace, Chelonia, Eretmochelys, and plastron.
- n. A tortoise-shell cat. See II., 2.
- n. With a qualifying word, one of certain nymphalid butterflies: so called from the tortoise-shell-like maculation. Aglais milberti is the nettle tortoise-shell, and Vanessa urticæ is the small tortoise-shell.
- Made of tortoise-shell.
- Mottled with black and yellow: as, a tortoise-shell cat or butterfly. The cat of this name is a mere color-variety of the domestic animal; the insect is a vanessoid, as Vanessa urticæ or V. polychlora.
- adj. Attributive form of tortoise shell, noun.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. the substance of the shell or horny plates of several species of sea turtles, especially of the hawkbill turtle. It is used in inlaying and in the manufacture of various ornamental articles.
- adj. Having a color like that of a tortoise's shell, black with white and orange spots; -- used mostly to describe cats of that color.
- n. brilliantly colored; larvae feed on nettles
- n. the mottled horny substance of the shell of some turtles
- n. a cat having black and cream-colored and yellowish markings
“Drive is a fairytale," the young director said, tapping his sneakered foot tensely under his chair, while looking very confident and poised in his tortoise-shell glasses and black sweatshirt -- an intriguing combination.”
“Heidi Julavits, the 35-year-old co-editor of The Believer, the new Dave Eggers – sponsored literary magazine, arrived for her interview dressed in a style that might be called haute zoologist: angular tortoise-shell glasses, khaki zip-front jacket over a white polo shirt, and a denim skirt.”
“You should also lob a compliment at people you meet who are wearing the same tortoise-shell glasses.”
“Now I have some new large tortoise-shell glasses and keep encountering people with the same glasses.”
“I'm going to recommend two from opposite ends of the spectrum: Lanvin's cape in black wool, with silk lapels and tortoise-shell clasp (£2,110) and Coach's in navy-blue, with gold buttons and black leather trim (£475).”
“She had laughed, pushing her tortoise-shell glasses back with her middle finger.”
“His father, blind from birth, was one of Bahrain's premiere pearl merchants, and this father's father used to don tortoise-shell nose clips and tie stones to his feet in order to dive to depths of 80 feet without air tanks, wet suit or goggles, to fetch the "fisheyes of Dilmun.”
“Napoleonic Wars hero Horatio Nelson 1758–1805 once owned one of the items, a faux tortoise-shell snuffbox depicting a scene from a seaside Italian town on its lid.”
“Tougher than any of the men in the grey flannel suits, with their tortoise-shell glasses and their thighs lean from roadwork.”
“A pair of tortoise-shell bar-rettes pinned the sides of her toffee-brown hair away from her face, and a pair of dun-colored cowboy boots with run-down heels clad her feet.”
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