One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A predatory tropical marine mollusk, the shell of which bears spines and forms a long narrow canal extending downward from the aperture.
- ‘In one corner were piles of seashells attractively packaged and framed in boxes for hanging on the wall - cowries and mitre shells, murex and spider shells.’
- ‘However, the creatures inside murex shells are edible and are consumed in some parts of the world.’
- ‘The region around Tyre was well known in the ancient world for its purple dye made from the murex grandaris mollusc.’
- ‘Tyrian purple, from the shellfish murex, was a dye reserved for the emperor; this dye was worth several times its weight in gold.’
Late 16th century: from Latin; perhaps related to Greek muax ‘sea mussel’.
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