Definition of tortoiseshell in English:

tortoiseshell

noun

  • 1mass noun The semi-transparent mottled yellow and brown shell of certain turtles, typically used to make jewellery or ornaments.

    • ‘These included shell, coral, tortoiseshell, lava, jet, ivory, and paste.’
    • ‘They often had tortoiseshell veneer and ivory and mother-of-pearl inlays.’
    • ‘Each little box and bottle was lidded with silver and tortoiseshell and those same materials were to be found on the numerous combs and brushes.’
    • ‘It was a strange coloured little creature, speckled brown like tortoiseshell.’
    • ‘The wearing of penile sheaths made from a diversity of substances - linen, gourds, tortoiseshell, leather, silk, oiled paper - has been known in numerous societies from distant antiquity.’
    • ‘There is jewelry incorporating hair, enamel, engraving, casting, and die-stamping, as well as objects made from unusual materials such as tortoiseshell, wood, and vulcanite.’
    • ‘Most extraordinary of all is a colossal pair of tortoiseshell and ivory globular vases and covers, probably made as exhibition pieces.’
    • ‘Celluloid, a sheet material shaped with heat, replaced ivory or tortoiseshell in combs and accessories.’
    • ‘Cascades of earls, rubies, sapphires, diamonds and tortoiseshell hatpins, 76 items in all, poured out.’
    • ‘It talks of the land of Azania where ‘there is much ivory and tortoiseshell.’’
    • ‘The seemingly random splotches of bold color mimicked the appearance of tortoiseshell while simultaneously obscuring flaws still evident in the body and glaze of many pieces.’
    • ‘Any suitable material may be used, including quill, parchment, wood, ivory, bone, horn, tortoiseshell, and plastic.’
    • ‘Originals or copies of Greek statues, objects of gold or silver, ivory or tortoiseshell, intaglios, cameos, and vases of precious stone accumulated in Roman palaces and villas, and statuary adorned their gardens.’
    • ‘Along with other large case pieces, desks-and-bookcases were often covered with herringbone-patterned veneer in exotic woods or tortoiseshell.’
    • ‘All the timber used on the building came from the Barns Estate, from the white fir floor in the bedroom to the beautiful solid elm doors with their tortoiseshell markings.’
    • ‘In the centre of the First State Room is a kneehole writing-desk of about 1680, veneered with brass and pewter marquetry on a ground of tortoiseshell backed with red pigment.’
    • ‘Tanjung Benoa, on the southeast coast of Bali, is the centre of a deadly illegal trade in tortoiseshell and meat that is threatening to exterminate one of the world's most ancient species.’
    • ‘Close in date to the kneehole desk is a small mantel clock on the chimneypiece of the Green Drawing Room, veneered with red tortoiseshell and surmounted by a figure of Fame.’
    • ‘Later netsuke, figures and works of art could have considerable amounts of inlay in mother-of-pearl, amber, coconut, tortoiseshell and stained ivory.’
    • ‘We've also found tortoiseshell, great white shark teeth.’
    • ‘Steer clear of anything containing black coral or tortoiseshell; both materials are contraband and you won't get them through customs at home.’
    • ‘It was full of leather and clad about with some rather unhappy tortoiseshell detailing.’
    • ‘Cottier inlaid it with tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl in panels depicting musical instruments and masks on the lid and nine portraits of famous composers around the sides.’
    • ‘For centuries hawksbills have been hunted for this carapace, the natural source of tortoiseshell, and for eggs highly prized in some societies.’
    • ‘Gold, silver, Boulle marquetry of brass, pewter, porcelain, tortoiseshell, ebony ivory, and rare woods were all used.’
    • ‘It is smaller than the green turtle (length of carapace unlikely to be more than 75 cm / 30) and less sought after as food than as the source of tortoiseshell.’
    1. 1.1 A synthetic substance made to imitate tortoiseshell.
      • ‘I also noticed that my glasses, once tortoiseshell and chic, had become wire frame and sort of angular.’
      • ‘I was not much of an athlete and so nearsighted that by third grade I wore gigantic tortoiseshell glasses.’
      • ‘Truthfully, I noticed the broad tortoiseshell glasses surrounding his little brown eyes first.’
      • ‘A slip of a girl in studious tortoiseshell specs, she doesn't strike one as an obvious sadist.’
      • ‘He brushed a fringe of fine, mousy hair from his face and pushed his imitation tortoiseshell glasses up his narrow nose.’
      • ‘She had thick brown hair that piled unceremoniously on her head and green tortoiseshell glasses.’
      • ‘‘I really can't discuss it,’ he says, rubbing his eyes, behind tortoiseshell designer spectacles, with his small, neat hands.’
      • ‘The diamond-patterned tortoiseshell panel, offset with faux dentils of ivory and macassar ebony, recalls patterns he also used for wall hangings.’
      • ‘She had graying dark brown hair, and against the unspoken rules of rigid, authoritative women everywhere, she wore it not in a bun, but clipped away from her face with handsome tortoiseshell clips.’
      • ‘Her baby blues flick over to me as she tucks some of her thin copper hair behind one ear, simultaneously adjusting her round tortoiseshell glasses.’
      • ‘Take, for example, the non-conformist Enid, who delights in wearing retro tortoiseshell specs, thrift-store garb and gaudy lipstick and despises all around her.’
      • ‘Outdoor wicker furniture provides a comfy place to take a break, and tortoiseshell shades can be lowered for privacy.’
      • ‘Decree Nisis should come with a guide to growing a pencil moustache for men and a floor length negligee and tortoiseshell cigarette holder for women.’
      • ‘Her eyes were a dark, haunting green, and she wore thick-rimmed tortoiseshell glasses.’
      • ‘A man wearing tortoiseshell glasses and a trench coat emerged from nowhere, grabbed Croce, and hugged him.’
      • ‘Thus it was that, early in the year, among many other fairly dodgy frames on offer in M&S, I found myself contemplating a big pair of mock tortoiseshell Seventies-influenced shades.’
      • ‘If you refer to your collection of tortoiseshell guitar picks as plectra, the rest of your rock group are going to make merciless fun of you.’
      • ‘You just pay a lot of money,’ he tells me, polishing his decades-old tortoiseshell spectacles across the table linen. ‘I could put my prices up to any level and the tourists would still come.’
      • ‘His head is round, his beard is graying blond, and he looks out from behind tortoiseshell glasses.’
      • ‘‘It was started off in London by my mother's stepfather, and originally made tortoiseshell frames to the firm's own design,’ says James.’
  • 2

    • ‘The other is a fat tortoiseshell with a lot of white called Sophie.’
    • ‘She was just sitting quietly one afternoon at a friend's house in Naklua when a tiny tortoiseshell kitten walked inside and mewed at her.’
    • ‘The cat could be a tabby, a tortoiseshell, maybe even a Siamese.’
    • ‘In November 2001, the friendly tortoiseshell, named after the man who cared for her, became a stowaway on methanol tanker Tomiwaka, which was bound for Korea.’
    • ‘The pair inherited the tortoiseshell and white cat eight years ago and he has gradually got fatter over the years.’
    • ‘Furthermore, ‘solid colors, tortoiseshells and bicolors have a smoother, softer coat than tabbies‘; and during hot weather, ‘the tail, ear and toe tufts ‘are the only factors that ‘distinguish the cat as a longhair.’’
    • ‘In several issues there were discussions of tortoiseshell male cats.’
    • ‘The tortoiseshell, who is 110 years old in human terms, was left homeless after her elderly owner, from Chorlton, passed away.’
    • ‘The lithe tortoiseshell regarded the offending human, then ambled toward the porch rail with nonchalant disgust and mounted it without disturbing a whisker.’
    • ‘It is to a ruby eyed raven as a tortoiseshell is to a calico.’
    • ‘The pair consisted of a tortoiseshell and white female called Madame Butterfly and a red and white male called Richard.’
    • ‘Rainbow is a typical tortoiseshell with splotches of brown, tan and gold on white. Cc has a striped grey coat over white.’
    • ‘It is just a quirk that people would rather take on coloured cats like tortoiseshells.’
    • ‘She is a black tortoiseshell, and is very dark but has small flecks of brown grey and ginger in her coat.’
    • ‘Back in our chamber I sat down upon Burginde's bed and stroked the tortoiseshell kitten in silence.’
    • ‘One of the curlicues was a black-and-white shorthair male; one was a black shorthair female; the third was a tortoiseshell shorthair female.’
    • ‘Researchers in Texas created the fluffy kitten, named Cc, from a cell taken from an adult tortoiseshell female.’
    • ‘It also shared the Siamese's pointed color pattern, but in the untraditional colors of red, cream, tortoiseshell and lynx points.’
    • ‘Presently, they have a mature adult tortoiseshell female who was spotted astray in Kirkbymoorside for several months before being brought into their care with a nasty skin infection around her head.’
    • ‘First family pet was a lovely tortoiseshell and white cat called Pickles (Piccalilli).’
  • 3

    • ‘A tortoiseshell sipping nectar from my grape hyacinths.’
    • ‘Not just the usual cabbage whites this year, but tortoiseshells, red admirals, painted ladies and peacock butterflies too.’

Pronunciation

tortoiseshell

/ˈtɔːtəsʃɛl/