See also: Pearl

English edit

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Pearls (1)

Etymology edit

From Middle English perle, from Old French perle of uncertain etymology. Probably via unattested Medieval Latin *pernula, from Latin perna (haunch; a marine bivalve shaped like a leg of lamb)[1] but also derived from Medieval Latin perla, from Latin perula (little bag). Its typographic use follows the name given by Jean Jannon to the type used in his miniature editions of Vergil, Horace, & the New Testament in the 1620s, which were the smallest printed works to his time. Its surfing use derives from the supposed resemblance to pearl diving.

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

pearl (countable and uncountable, plural pearls)

  1. A shelly concretion, usually rounded, and having a brilliant luster, with varying tints, found in the mantle, or between the mantle and shell, of certain bivalve mollusks, especially in the pearl oysters and river mussels, and sometimes in certain univalves. It is usually due to a secretion of shelly substance around some irritating foreign particle. Its substance is the same as nacre, or mother-of-pearl. Round lustrous pearls are used in jewellery.
  2. (figuratively) Something precious.
    • c. 1606 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Macbeth”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene viii]:
      I see thee compassed with thy kingdom's pearl.
    • 1920, Herman Cyril McNeile, chapter 1, in Bulldog Drummond:
      Hugh helped himself to bacon. "My dear fellow, she can think what she likes so long as she continues to grill bacon like this. Your wife is a treasure, James—a pearl amongst women; and you can tell her so with my love."
  3. A capsule of gelatin or similar substance containing liquid for e.g. medicinal application.
  4. Nacre, or mother-of-pearl.
  5. A whitish speck or film on the eye.
    • 1641, John Milton, Animadversions upon The Remonstrants Defence Against Smectymnuus, Section III:
      Boast not of your eyes; it is feared you have Balaam's disease, a pearl in your eye, Mammon's prestriction.
  6. A fish allied to the turbot; the brill.
  7. A light-colored tern.
  8. One of the circle of tubercles which form the bur on a deer's antler.
  9. (uncountable, typography, printing, dated) The size of type between diamond and agate, standardized as 5-point.
  10. A fringe or border.
  11. (obsolete) A jewel or gem.
    • 1635, Douay Rheims Bible, Proverbs 20:15
      There is gold, and multitude of pearles: but a precious vessel the lips of knowledge.
  12. (figurative) A valuable little nugget of information; especially, an aphorism or tip that is operationally useful for decision-making.
    Hyponym: pearl of wisdom
    clinical pearls
  13. (euphemistic, vulgar, slang) The clitoris.
    • 2010, Richard Knight, Simple Fantasies Can Come True, page 10:
      My mouth and tongue finally find her pearl. Her clitoris.
    • 2012, Danie Baly, Born with a Curse: Secret Fantasies:
      Teasing her pearl she shakes in my arms, rolling her eyes and throwing the pussy at me.
  14. Short for pearl tapioca.
  15. (heraldry) Argent, in blazoning by precious stones.
    • 1720, Francis Nichols, Rudiments of Honour, page 296:
      Errol. Pearl three Escutcheons Ruby. / Elgin. Topaz a Saltier and Chief Ruby, on a Canton Pearl a Lyon Rampant Saphyr, which last is their paternal Coat; and the Field Topaz, and Saltier, and Chief Ruby, was the Arms of King Robert the Bruce, they altering the Field from Pearl (as he bore it) to Topaz.
    • 1726, John Guillim, The Banner Display'd; Or, an Abridgment of Guillim, page 504:
      The Field is Ruby, on a Bend Topaz, three Martlets Diamond. The Armes of the most Noble and Puissant Lord, Edward Brabazon, Earl of Meath, and Baron of Atherdee in the Kingdom of Ireland. His Lordship's Atchievements are Quarterly of sixteen Coats. 1. Brabazon, as above. 2. Diamond, on a Chevron between three Pickaxes Pearl, as many Mullets Ruby, by the Name of Mosley. 3. Saphire, ten Bezants, 4, 3, 2, 1, by the Bisset. 4. Pearl, on a Bend Diamond, nine Annulets conjoined in three Links Topaz.
    • 1754, John Lodge, The Peerage of Ireland; Or, a Genealogical History of the ..., page 71:
      (1) Pearl, a Cross, Ruby, with the Effigies of our Saviour thereon, Topaz, born in Memory of one of the Family's fighting against the Turks.

Synonyms edit

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

See also edit

Verb edit

pearl (third-person singular simple present pearls, present participle pearling, simple past and past participle pearled)

  1. (transitive, sometimes figurative) To set or adorn with pearls, or with mother-of-pearl.
    • 1959, Anthony Burgess, Beds in the East (The Malayan Trilogy), published 1972, page 600:
      Syed Omar began to walk to the airport. Sweat pearled his tough brown skin, his fat bounced in rhythm.
  2. (transitive) To cause to resemble pearls in shape; to make into small round grains.
    to pearl barley
  3. (transitive) To cause to resemble pearls in lustre or iridescence.
    • 1993, New Scientist, volume 139, page 62:
      A Teaching Company Scheme developing new technology for pearling light bulbs was established in October []
  4. (intransitive) To resemble pearl or pearls.
  5. (intransitive) To hunt for pearls
    to go pearling
  6. (intransitive, surfing) To sink the nose of one's surfboard into the water, often on takeoff.
    • 1999, Joanne VanMeter [1]:
      Used a pointed tip today and learned why I kept pearling with my round tipped board. Round noses like to dig into the water, causing frustrating wipeouts.
  7. (intransitive, surfing) Of the nose of the surfboard: to sink in this manner.
    • 2017, Jian, Sh-Boom: The Way of the World:
      He couldn't even turn the board or raise the nose. Consequently, the board pearled, nose-dived into the water, throwing Lee off almost like being thrown from a horse. But he persisted.

Derived terms edit

References edit

  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. "pearl, n.1". Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2005.

Anagrams edit