One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In full "mabe pearl". A type of large, usually hemispherical cultured pearl, grown on the inside shell of an oyster rather than within the body, and often (because of its shape) mounted in jewellery.
1940s; earliest use found in The New York Times. From Japanese mabe the bivalve Pteria penguin, a pearl cultivated in the shell of this bivalve.
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