Definition of dentalium in English:

dentalium

nounplural noun dentalia/-lēə/

  • 1

    another term for tooth shell

    Genus Dentalium, class Scaphopoda

    • ‘dentalium shells are ideal for use with beadwork’
    1. 1.1usually dentalia historical Tooth shells used as currency, especially by some North American Indian peoples.
      ‘he gave them handfuls of dentalia, for which his father-in-law and his brothers-in-law gave him valuable furs’
      • ‘a white mare purchased with dentalium’
      • ‘At first, only dentalia shells were placed as bets.’
      • ‘One basic unit of currency was dentalia: tubular, tusk-shaped shells, often scrimshawed or intricately wrapped in black and red snakeskin.’
      • ‘Dentalia were very important to the Yurok as wealth items.’
      • ‘Historical accounts list the value of slaves in dentalia, or tooth shells.’

Pronunciation

dentalium

/denˈtālēəm/ /dɛnˈteɪliəm/

Origin

Modern Latin, from late Latin dentalis (see dental).