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’
    • ‘It's all about defending the shiny bejeweled palace on the hill and guarding the precious pearls and birthstones hidden within.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She even had on a pearl necklace and earrings to match.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The hem was trimmed with white beads, and pearls and rubies framed the neck.’
    • ‘It's a pair of pearl and diamond earrings and an 18 carat gold bangle.’
    • ‘Unconsciously, her hands worked to take off her small pearl earrings as she entered her room and closed the door behind her.’
    • ‘I always called the white flowers diamonds or pearls.’
    • ‘The center jewel was a white pearl, large and round.’
    • ‘Some of the antique jewellery was studded with emeralds, ruby, zircons and pearls.’
    • ‘The dress had a pair of arm-length gloves, a pearl necklace and earrings, and a pair of glass high-heel dress shoes.’
    • ‘She wore a crisp business suit, which was shown off by a pearl necklace and matching earrings.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She wore a pearl charm bracelet on her wrist and bounded down the stairs.’
    • ‘Her matching pearl earrings and necklace elegantly decorated her.’
    • ‘He pulled out magnificent earrings with glistening pearls and emeralds dripping from them and then a glass cup with painted mermaids on it.’
    • ‘A simple rhinestone or pearl necklace and earring set will enhance the look of your maids.’
    • ‘He could see the potential for lobster farming and later in Australia would experiment with the aquaculture of oysters, pearls, and pearl shells.’
    • ‘Within it, there are gems, rubies, pearls and flawless diamonds.’
    best, finest, top, pick, choice, choicest, prime, cream, prize, treasure, gem, jewel, the jewel in the crown, the crème de la crème, first class, elite, elect
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An artificial imitation of a pearl.
      • ‘He experimented with the artificial culture of pearls, by inserting grit to act as a nucleus around which the new pearl would form.’
      • ‘In her ears, were large pearls, obviously fakes, and she had a faux-pearl necklace to match.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Do you want natural, cultured, or imitation pearls?’
    2. 1.2pearls A necklace of pearls.
      ‘tweeds look traditional teamed with twinset and pearls’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Like the sun in the morning and the moon at night, we expect the Tories to stick to their twinsets 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Ditch the summer's clunky ethnic beads for lady-like pearls, vintage jewellery, an old-fashioned handbag, leather gloves and a flash of stocking.’
      • ‘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. 1.3 Something resembling a pearl.
      ‘the sweat stood in pearls along his forehead’
      • ‘My skin was pale and clammy, and was covered in tiny pearls of sweat that slacked my hair into a messy drip.’
      • ‘The way it would warm cold and clammy skin, or make a pearl of sweat roll down my face.’
      • ‘When I was walking home, the moon was simply gigantic; it was a luminous, celestial pearl.’
      • ‘He closed his eyes; a pearl of sweat ran down his face.’
      • ‘Suddenly the fleece jacket on your arm, well used in colder climes, weighs heavy and pearls of sweat appear on your brow.’
    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’
      • ‘There are five color options: nighthawk black pearl, opal beige, redrock pearl, satin silver metallic and silverstone metallic.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Its hues were of white, pearl, and alabaster, and it shone with pristine care and impeccable architecture.’
  • 2A person or thing of great worth.

    ‘he has some pearls of wisdom to offer’
    • ‘On a training workshop last year I picked up one of those little pearls of wisdom that stay with you for years.’
    • ‘But I turn them down, knowing that I must reserve my pearls of wisdom for you - my appreciative readers.’
    • ‘The looks that I get in return for my pearls of wisdom are invariably of the blank variety.’
    • ‘Ladies and gentlemen, now welcome the loveliest pearl in our ocean, Yvonne.’
    • ‘The pearls of wisdom may, however, be lost at times in the factual information, and a few more diagrams would have helped.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘What philosophical pearl did he leave for history?’
    • ‘And to be honest, after 4 years of publishing my pearls of wisdom on a near-daily basis, I still don't really know.’
    • ‘They are little pearls of wisdom - often handed down to us from our parents and grandparents.’
    • ‘He can't resist imparting his pearls of wisdom.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As Fr Brian says every child is a precious pearl and deserves to be treated as such.’
    • ‘Keri's pearls of wisdom are always a welcome delight.’
    • ‘But wait: in an act of ablution worthy of the papacy, the writer throws us this pearl.’
    • ‘Still, there were pearls of wisdom buried amid the dogma.’
    • ‘School children tag along beside us, as we examine architectural jewels, eager to soak up our guide's pearls of wisdom.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Even if they do, it's your Libran duty to transmute this irritating grit into your own precious pearl of personal wisdom.’
    • ‘The history of cinema is littered with priceless pearls of wisdom delivered by eccentric movie producers.’
    finest example, finest specimen, choicest example, choicest specimen, best example, best specimen, showpiece, flower, pride, pride and joy, cream, crème de la crème, jewel in the crown, nonpareil, glory, wonder, prize, boast, pick
    View synonyms

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • 1literary Form pearl-like drops.

    ‘the juice on the blade pearled into droplets’
    • ‘A hiccup broke his voice as tears pearled at the rim of his eyes.’
    • ‘The perfect pear drop of a tear pearled at the side of his face.’
    • ‘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.
      ‘sunset pearling the sky above the hills’
  • 2usually as noun pearlingDive or fish for pearl oysters.

    as modifier ‘the pearling industry’
    • ‘As soon as he realized the value that foreigners placed on pearls, he reserved pearling in Pearl Harbor for himself and employed commoners to dive.’
    • ‘Not so long ago trochus shelling, along with pearling and the taking of the sea cucumber were important fishery industries along the Great Barrier Reef and to the north and west of Australia.’
    • ‘Fishing is one of the oldest industries in Kuwait, as are pearling and shipbuilding.’
    • ‘Aside from Dubai City, a trading center which was then by far the largest town, they subsisted primarily on date production, fishing, pearling, and, for some centuries, piracy.’

Phrases

  • cast pearls before swine

    • Offer valuable things to people who do not appreciate them.

      • ‘As a general rule, I advise against casting pearls before swine.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was a true case of casting pearls before swine.’

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

Pronunciation

pearl

/pəːl/