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

  • adj. Producing a display of lustrous, rainbowlike colors: an iridescent oil slick; iridescent plumage.
  • adj. Brilliant, lustrous, or colorful in effect or appearance: "The prelude was as iridescent as a prism in a morning room” ( Carson McCullers).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Producing a display of lustrous, rainbow-like colors; prismatic.
  • adj. Brilliant, lustrous, or colorful.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having colors like the rainbow; exhibiting a play of changeable colors; nacreous; prismatic. See iridescence.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Exhibiting or giving out colors like those of the rainbow; gleaming or shimmering with rainbow colors; more generally, glittering with different colors which change according to the light in which they are viewed, without reference to what the colors are; lustrously versicolor; of changeable metallic sheen, as certain birds, insects, minerals, glass, fabrics, etc.

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

  • adj. varying in color when seen in different lights or from different angles
  • adj. having a play of lustrous rainbow colors


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Coined around 1800, from Latin iris ("rainbow") + -escent.



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  • This word is sometimes misspelled with a double 'r'

    June 5, 2009

  • "The blinds were closed almost everywhere round the studio, which was fairly cool and, except in one place where daylight laid against the wall its brilliant but fleeting decoration, dark; one small rectangular window alone was open, embowered in honeysuckle and giving onto an avenue beyond a strip of garden; so that the atmosphere of the greater part of the studio was dusky, transparent and compact in its mass, but liquid and sparkling at the edges where the sunlight encased it, like a lump of rock crystal of which one surface, already cut and polished, gleams here and there like a mirror with iridescent rays."

    -- Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, Revised by D.J. Enright, p 565 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    May 7, 2008