Definition of dentalium in English:



  • 1

    as modifier ‘dentalium shells are ideal for use with beadwork’
    another term for tooth shell
    • ‘By the Cretaceous, fossils with well-defined longitudinal ridges appear, as in modern species of Dentalium and its close relatives (Family Dentaliidae).’
    • ‘In 1868 the Teton Dakota (Oglala and Brule) wore similar breastplates of dentalium shells.’
    • ‘In latter times beadwork was often substituted for quillwork and dentalium shells were often used.’
    • ‘Probably the failure of this ornament to gain acceptance among the Dakota tribes was due to their preference for and quite common use of a very similar choker of dentalium shells.’
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At first, only dentalia shells were placed as bets.’


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