Main definitions of pearl in English

: pearl1pearl2

pearl1

noun

  • 1A hard, lustrous spherical mass, typically white or bluish-grey, formed within the shell of a pearl oyster or other bivalve mollusc and highly prized as a gem.

    ‘a linen garment decorated with pearls’
    mass noun ‘necklaces of amethyst and pearl’
    as modifier ‘a pair of pearl earrings’
    • ‘She had changed from her khaki uniform to a more casual blue slacks, white pullover sweater and blue shoes, pearl earrings and a pearl necklace.’
    • ‘In fact, the only piece of jewelry that she wore was a pearl necklace, matching pearl earrings, and a gold wedding ring encasing a ruby.’
    • ‘Her matching pearl earrings and necklace elegantly decorated her.’
    • ‘A simple rhinestone or pearl necklace and earring set will enhance the look of your maids.’
    • ‘The dress had a pair of arm-length gloves, a pearl necklace and earrings, and a pair of glass high-heel dress shoes.’
    • ‘It's a pair of pearl and diamond earrings and an 18 carat gold bangle.’
    • ‘She even had on a pearl necklace and earrings to match.’
    • ‘She wore a crisp business suit, which was shown off by a pearl necklace and matching earrings.’
    • ‘I always called the white flowers diamonds or pearls.’
    • ‘The center jewel was a white pearl, large and round.’
    • ‘Unconsciously, her hands worked to take off her small pearl earrings as she entered her room and closed the door behind her.’
    • ‘Dawson brought from his jacket pocket the ring that Edric had spent months saving for, white gold with a pearl in the center that would match her wedding dress splendidly.’
    • ‘Next was another necklace - no, a choker - which was made of orange jewels and white pearls.’
    • ‘He could see the potential for lobster farming and later in Australia would experiment with the aquaculture of oysters, pearls, and pearl shells.’
    • ‘Some of the antique jewellery was studded with emeralds, ruby, zircons and pearls.’
    • ‘It's all about defending the shiny bejeweled palace on the hill and guarding the precious pearls and birthstones hidden within.’
    • ‘Within it, there are gems, rubies, pearls and flawless diamonds.’
    • ‘She wore a pearl charm bracelet on her wrist and bounded down the stairs.’
    • ‘He pulled out magnificent earrings with glistening pearls and emeralds dripping from them and then a glass cup with painted mermaids on it.’
    • ‘The hem was trimmed with white beads, and pearls and rubies framed the neck.’
    best, finest, top, pick, choice, choicest, prime, cream, prize, treasure, pearl, gem, jewel, the jewel in the crown, the crème de la crème, first class, elite, elect
    1. 1.1An artificial imitation of a pearl.
      • ‘Do you want natural, cultured, or imitation pearls?’
      • ‘He experimented with the artificial culture of pearls, by inserting grit to act as a nucleus around which the new pearl would form.’
      • ‘The set created by William II is comprised of a sword, an orb, a scepter and crown - all of silver gilt and set with imitation stones and pearls.’
      • ‘In her ears, were large pearls, obviously fakes, and she had a faux-pearl necklace to match.’
    2. 1.2pearlsA necklace of pearls.
      ‘tweeds look traditional teamed with twinset and pearls’
      • ‘Ditch the summer's clunky ethnic beads for lady-like pearls, vintage jewellery, an old-fashioned handbag, leather gloves and a flash of stocking.’
      • ‘Jewellery, including pearls and tiaras, is available for hire or purchase.’
      • ‘Also on display are stringed natural pearls and chains with lockets that have American diamonds laid on silver plated with gold.’
      • ‘Always bedecked in classic pearls, a sparkling brooch, and a cozy cardigan, she clearly has accessorizing down pat.’
      • ‘She wore a particularly colourful twinset and pearls.’
      • ‘But I hasten to add that he is rarely ‘in charge’ in a way that would make me come off as a simpering blonde Liberal Party wife wearing a pink twin set and pearls.’
      • ‘First we had the 45-year-old mother-of-two in twinset and pearls doing readings from her new children's book to a class of primary kids.’
      • ‘How did we ever survive all those evenings of ‘plastic pottery’ and the unending blether from the representative, clad of course in the obligatory twin set and pearls?’
      • ‘She wears twinsets and pearls, smiles graciously and says very little.’
      • ‘She admits she was frumpish, in twinset and pearls, when she first met John.’
      • ‘Like the sun in the morning and the moon at night, we expect the Tories to stick to their twinsets and pearls.’
      • ‘Thankfully there are no bare naked ladies at the Thirsk office, but neither are there any twin sets and pearls, not even a tweed skirt.’
      • ‘Men must wear a jacket and tie, and it would appear that some obscure rule forces all the women to wear a floral twin set and pearls.’
    3. 1.3Something resembling a pearl.
      ‘the sweat stood in pearls along his forehead’
      • ‘Suddenly the fleece jacket on your arm, well used in colder climes, weighs heavy and pearls of sweat appear on your brow.’
      • ‘He closed his eyes; a pearl of sweat ran down his face.’
      • ‘The way it would warm cold and clammy skin, or make a pearl of sweat roll down my face.’
      • ‘My skin was pale and clammy, and was covered in tiny pearls of sweat that slacked my hair into a messy drip.’
      • ‘When I was walking home, the moon was simply gigantic; it was a luminous, celestial pearl.’
    4. 1.4
      short for mother-of-pearl
    5. 1.5mass noun A very pale bluish grey or white colour like that of a pearl.
      as modifier ‘her dress was a lovely pearl grey’
      • ‘Call it what you will - lily white, creamy white, porcelain or pearl - I am still ghostly pale.’
      • ‘Fashion critics adore her dresses in hand-dyed shades of pearl, frost, teal, grey and chocolate, worn over silk slip dresses.’
      • ‘Its hues were of white, pearl, and alabaster, and it shone with pristine care and impeccable architecture.’
      • ‘There are five color options: nighthawk black pearl, opal beige, redrock pearl, satin silver metallic and silverstone metallic.’
      • ‘Variations of green, pale and gentle, or a shimmer of apricot or pearl can perfectly set a great reading mood for pages with heavy content.’
  • 2A person or thing of great rarity and worth.

    ‘these things are pearls amidst the everyday’
    ‘every child is a precious pearl and deserves to be treated as such’
    • ‘Those who attended his classes at the University of California in the mid-1960s were lucky enough to pick up a few pearls of wisdom, and we do have some revealing interviews and articles.’
    • ‘School children tag along beside us, as we examine architectural jewels, eager to soak up our guide's pearls of wisdom.’
    • ‘But with his well-documented habit of pausing for 30 seconds or so while considering the question, you do begin to wonder if he revels in cultivating an air of expectancy for his pearls of wisdom.’
    • ‘And to be honest, after 4 years of publishing my pearls of wisdom on a near-daily basis, I still don't really know.’
    • ‘It is one of those scientific pearls of wisdom that tend to be quoted after several pints - a duck's quack does not produce an echo, and no-one knows why.’
    • ‘But I turn them down, knowing that I must reserve my pearls of wisdom for you - my appreciative readers.’
    • ‘The history of cinema is littered with priceless pearls of wisdom delivered by eccentric movie producers.’
    • ‘Berrie insists she has too much still to learn herself, without presuming to pass on pearls of wisdom to others.’
    • ‘What pearls of wisdom can I impart as a result of yet another year's experience?’
    • ‘The looks that I get in return for my pearls of wisdom are invariably of the blank variety.’
    • ‘On a training workshop last year I picked up one of those little pearls of wisdom that stay with you for years.’
    • ‘I had hoped to receive pearls of wisdom on how to distinguish between ‘benign’ and serious headaches; what I learnt was that basically you can't.’
    • ‘He can't resist imparting his pearls of wisdom.’
    • ‘Keri's pearls of wisdom are always a welcome delight.’
    • ‘Still, there were pearls of wisdom buried amid the dogma.’
    • ‘He is acknowledged as a man who is selfless in giving advice to those who are eager to listen to his pearls of wisdom on racing and breeding.’
    • ‘The pearls of wisdom may, however, be lost at times in the factual information, and a few more diagrams would have helped.’
    • ‘They are little pearls of wisdom - often handed down to us from our parents and grandparents.’
    • ‘But wait: in an act of ablution worthy of the papacy, the writer throws us this pearl.’
    • ‘What philosophical pearl did he leave for history?’
    finest example, finest specimen, choicest example, choicest specimen, best example, best specimen, showpiece, pearl, flower, pride, pride and joy, cream, crème de la crème, jewel in the crown, nonpareil, glory, wonder, prize, boast, pick

verb

[no object]
  • 1literary Form drops resembling pearls.

    ‘raindrops pearled on water-soaked windowpanes’
    • ‘The perfect pear drop of a tear pearled at the side of his face.’
    • ‘A hiccup broke his voice as tears pearled at the rim of his eyes.’
    • ‘Blood pearled around the shaft of the arrow, bright red, and swelled there like a parasite until it crept down her cheek.’
    1. 1.1with object Make bluish-grey or white in a way reminscent of a pearl.
      ‘sunset pearled the sky above the hills’
      ‘the peaked hills were blue and pearled with clouds’

Phrases

    cast pearls before swine
    • Offer valuable things to people who do not appreciate them.

      • ‘Oh, but even as I write I can't shake the feeling that I'm casting pearls before swine; that you don't believe a word of this, that you remain suspicious of my motives.’
      • ‘As a general rule, I advise against casting pearls before swine.’
      • ‘It was a true case of casting pearls before swine.’
    pearl of wisdom
    ironic
    • A wise saying or piece of advice.

      ‘the nation's media were assembled to hear his pearls of wisdom’
      ‘he has some pearls of wisdom to offer’

Origin

Late Middle English from Old French perle, perhaps based on Latin perna ‘leg’, extended to denote a leg-of-mutton-shaped bivalve.

Pronunciation

pearl

/pəːl/

Main definitions of pearl in English

: pearl1pearl2

pearl2

noun

British
another term for picot

Pronunciation

pearl

/pəːl/