from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
- noun Any of various marine gastropods of the family Cypraeidae of tropical and subtropical seas, having glossy, often colorfully patterned shells, some of which were formerly used as currency in parts of the South Pacific and Africa.
from The Century Dictionary.
- noun See
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.
- noun (Bot.) Same as
- noun (Zoöl.) A marine shell of the genus Cypræa.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.
- noun A
gastropodof the family Cypraeidae common to the Indian Ocean.
- noun The
pyriform shell, of the cowrie, especially of the species money cowry(Cypraea moneta), formerly used as money in some areas.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- noun any of numerous tropical marine gastropods of the genus Cypraea having highly polished usually brightly marked shells
from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
The first currency to be used this way was something called the cowrie shell, a seashell common in the Pacific and Indian oceans that was used for trading primarily in Africa and Asia.
The cowrie is the most widely and longest used currency in history.
Economists generally take for granted, if only tacitly, a teleological view of money's historical development, according to which it first takes the "primitive" form of mundane commodities such as cowrie shells and cacao seeds, and then advances through various stages, culminating in the national fiat monies most economies rely upon today. offers a spirited rebuttal to this naively "whiggish" perspective.
A garter of white cowrie shells encircled one leg just below the knee.
"It is a wahine squid. shall now sing to you the song of the cowrie shell, the red cowrie shell that we used as a bait for the squid —"
Others have padlocks, wooden pegs or cowrie shells attached to them for symbolic purposes.
Porcelain After the Chinese began transforming kaolin clay into fire-hardened, gleaming white vessels about 1,800 years ago, the Italians dubbed the style porcellana , or porcelain, because it reminded them of shiny cowrie shells.
Kalash women - who, legend says, are part-fairy, part-human - wear black gowns, and headgear decked out with cowrie shells, buttons and crowned with large colored feathers.
Her hair was jet black that day, black as any night, so the cowrie shells woven into her braids looked like a sky full of stars.
“You were all so busy arguing, you barely noticed the cowrie shells in my hair!”