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

  • n. The quality or state of being iridescent.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The condition or state of being iridescent; exhibition of colors like those of the rainbow; a prismatic play of color.
  • n. Any shimmer of glittering and changeable colors.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Exhibition of colors like those of the rainbow, especially a surface reflection which changes color with the angle at which the object is viewed; the quality or state of being iridescent; a prismatic play of color. It is due to interference of light waves reflected from the front and back surfaces of a thin layer transparent or semitransparent film.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The condition of being iridescent; exhibition of alternating or intermingling colors like those of the rainbow, as in mother-of-pearl, where it is an effect of interference (see interference, 5); any shimmer of glittering and changeable colors.

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

  • n. the visual property of something having a milky brightness and a play of colors from the surface


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • This is what we call iridescence without illumination.


  • The colors are caused by a phenomenon called iridescence, in which light is scattered by the laminated platelets on the feathers.

    The Field Guide to Wildlife Habitats of the Eastern United States

  • There's no sham there; no deception -- except the iridescence, which is, as you doubtless know, an optical illusion attributable to the intervention of rays of light reflected from microscopic corrugations of the nacreous surface.

    Bonaventure A Prose Pastoral of Acadian Louisiana

  • However, she had the charm, and those who feared her were also fond of her; the fear and the fondness being perhaps both heightened by what may be called the iridescence of her character -- the play of various, nay, contrary tendencies.

    Daniel Deronda

  • The term "iridescence" is used when the display of colour is seen on the surface, rather than coming out of the stone itself.

    The Chemistry, Properties and Tests of Precious Stones

  • In some cases the Roman pearl has a true iridescence which is produced by "burning" colors into the hollow enamel bead.

    A Text-Book of Precious Stones for Jewelers and the Gem-Loving Public

  • A new study by Cambridge University has found that flowers take on different colours depending on the angle from which they are viewed†"plant petals use the property, known as iridescence, to attract pollinators.

    The Times of India

  • Tiny glasses of crystal-clear arak that clouded into milky iridescence when you added ice.

    Day of Honey

  • Rather was it a pearl, with the depth of iridescence of a pearl; but of a size all pearls of earth and time, welded into one, could not have totalled; and of a colour undreamed of in any pearl, or of anything else, for that matter, for it was the colour of the Red One.


  • He was beautiful and talked in stirring iridescence.

    ADRIFT • by Andrew S. Fuller


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  • I have a list for those! Of course, it's probably just an OCR error (I'll report it over on the feedback thingee, too.

    February 7, 2012

  • There is a typo in the "GNU Webster's 1913" definition. I think "transpatrent" should be "transparent."

    February 7, 2012

  • "But as these faces, different in this respect from those of the party around me, were not overlaid for me by any residue of physical experience or social mediocrity, they remained, in their handsome outlines and rainbow iridescence, homogeneous with those names which at regular intervals, each of a different hue, detached themselves from the genealogical tree of Guermantes, and disturbed with no foreign or opaque matter the translucent, alternating, multicoloured buds which like the ancestors of Jesus in the old Jesse windows, blossomed on either side of the tree of glass."

    --The Guermantes Way by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, Revised by D.J. Enright, p 744 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    September 13, 2008

  • Related words from the OED:

    iridesce (v. intr.)

    To exhibit iridescence; to shine in an iridescent manner.

    1905 J. LONDON Jacket (1915) 48

    Sun-flashed water where coral-growths iridesced from profounds of turquoise deeps.

    iridescent (a.)

    Displaying colours like those of the rainbow, or those reflected from soap-bubbles and the like; glittering or flashing with colours which change according to the position from which they are viewed.

    1879 G. ALLEN Colour-Sense i. 5

    We do not owe to the colour-sense the existence in nature of the rainbow, the sunset, or the other effects of iridescent light.

    1873 BLACKIE Self-Cult. (1874) 84

    The best fictions, without a deep moral significance beneath, are only iridescent froth.

    iridian (a.)

    Rainbow-like; brilliantly coloured.

    1888 A. UPWARD Songs in Ziklag 146 Consistency ii,

    Truth's iridian arch.

    iridical (a.)

    Brilliant with rainbow colours.

    1862 S. LUCAS Secularia 100

    The iridical window and the flaming shrine.

    iridine (a.)

    Rainbow-like; iridescent.

    1851 S. JUDD Margaret I. xiv. (Ward & Lock) 110

    The horned-pout, with its pearly iridine breast and iron-brown back.

    iridize (v. trans.)

    To make iridescent.

    iridization (n.)

    The action or process of showing prismatic colours as in the rainbow; irisation.

    1884 Pop. Sci. Monthly June 288

    M. Cornu lately described to the French Academy of Sciences a white rainbow...This rainbow was wholly white, without even as much iridization as is noticeable in halos, and had a fleecy appearance.

    June 28, 2007