from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The quality or state of being iridescent.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun 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 Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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


Sorry, no etymologies found.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word iridescence.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • 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

  • "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

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

    February 7, 2012

  • 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