Definition of dentalium in English:



  • 1

    [as modifier] ‘dentalium shells are ideal for use with beadwork’
    another term for tooth shell
    1. 1.1usually dentaliahistorical Tooth shells used as currency, especially by some American Indian peoples.
      ‘he gave them handfuls of dentalia, for which his father-in-law and his brothers-in-law gave him slaves and valuable furs’
      ‘a white mare purchased with dentalium’
      • ‘Historical accounts list the value of slaves in dentalia, or tooth shells.’
      • ‘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.’


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