Definition of oyster in US English:



  • 1Any of a number of bivalve mollusks with rough irregular shells. Several kinds are eaten (especially raw) as a delicacy and may be farmed for food or pearls.

    a similar bivalve of another family, in particular the thorny oysters (Spondylidae), wing oysters (Pteriidae), and saddle oysters (Anomiidae)

    a true oyster (family Ostreidae), in particular the edible American oyster (Crassostrea virginica)

    • ‘The sumptuous VIP room - the Krug Room - is an intimate setting where indulgence is accompanied by fine delicacies like oysters and caviar.’
    • ‘Bivalves like oysters, mussels and scallops are particularly prone to contamination because of the way they feed.’
    • ‘When overseas avoid peeled fruits, vegetables and salads and especially raw foods, oysters and shellfish.’
    • ‘The canal offers a rich array of shellfish, including oysters, clams, mussels, and Dungeness crab, which can go from water to table in less than two hours.’
    • ‘They had no luck with the fishing, which our friendly warden blamed on commercial fishing in the area, but came back with several varieties of shell fish including mussels, oysters, crab and paua.’
    • ‘When a hard shell protects the prey, such as mussels and oysters, the starfish tugs steadily with its arms until the shells part slightly.’
    • ‘Lot 61 also boasts excellent, chic snacks ranging from beer-braised short ribs and Thai mussels to oysters and caviar.’
    • ‘If one mentions the word aquaculture in Ireland, the first thing that comes to mind is most probably salmon or shellfish like mussels, oysters and scallops.’
    • ‘Coastal wetlands are also essential for important shellfish including shrimp, blue crabs, oysters and clams.’
    • ‘They discovered that small beads could be carved out of the shells of freshwater mussels and inserted into oysters to artificially form pearls.’
    • ‘During the gold rush days, big spenders along the U.S. West Coast developed a taste for a new delicacy - the Olympia oyster.’
    • ‘Pressed down flat against kayak decks, our noses almost scraping the sharp oyster shells that cling to the cavern roof, we inch our way through darkness and claustrophobia.’
    • ‘Loch Fyne is Scotland's longest and deepest sea loch, and at its head, the Loch Fyne Oysters company farms oysters and mussels for consumption in its own restaurants as well as in many others in Britain.’
    • ‘Environmental health officer Ray Parle explained that shellfish like mussels, oysters, clams and scallops filter their food from the water like a sieve.’
    • ‘And after a satisfying day of bird-watching, treat yourself to a scrumptious meal of Maryland's famous blue crabs, oysters, or a freshly caught fish.’
    • ‘Seafood is used in such delicacies as oysters in black bean sauce, prawns wrapped in seaweed, cucumber crab rolls, and clam and winter melon soup.’
    • ‘Later in the night everyone got an opportunity to sample the local seafood with lots of oysters and mussels available to eat in the local hostelries.’
    • ‘Some oysters and also the bivalve Spondylus were found attached to the dinosaur bones.’
    • ‘Traditional pairings often find Chardonnay-dominant wines with oysters, caviar, lobster, shellfish, smoked salmon, sashimi/sushi and Thai cuisine.’
    • ‘While larvae can settle around docks or boat hulls, their preferred habitat is an oyster shell on an oyster reef.’
  • 2A shade of grayish white.

    • ‘If you don't want to go beyond white, update your color with tone-on-tone neutrals like ecru, oyster, almond or biscuit.’
    • ‘While Tisci focused on black and oyster, Lacroix used a vast array of colors and along with the rich details of beads, laces, corsets, flounces and satin.’
    • ‘With unbounded flair, Tia couples opalescent shades of princess and oyster in the finest cotton with stiff denim to capture the edgy allure of modern London.’
    • ‘Suit colours for the summer include stone, muted grey, cream and oyster.’
  • 3An oyster-shaped morsel of meat on each side of the backbone in poultry.

    • ‘Turn the chicken and cut from the tail to the head to remove the leg from the carcass and pop out the oyster.’
    • ‘Tip the bird over slightly, and with the point of the knife remove the oyster and the small dark portion found on the side-bone.’


[no object]usually as noun oystering
  • Raise, dredge, or gather oysters.

    ‘oystering is still the lifeblood of this town’
    • ‘Gulf shrimping and inshore oystering are the only remaining marine commercial fisheries in Texas not under a limited entry program.’
    • ‘Voisin notes that the oyster season was supposed to kick off on September 7, but now the oystering community will have to reassess its schedule, given the decimated oyster beds that will take several years to recover.’
    • ‘I had had a series of jobs like oystering, landscaping, pumping gas.’
    • ‘The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum on the edge of town had boats on dry land which the kids could climb in, a lighthouse to climb up, fishing nets to climb over, and, inevitably, a history of oystering.’
    • ‘The ore was usually found in water less than twelve feet deep and was raised by men in large, flat-bottomed boats wielding drags, rakes, or heavy, powerful tongs similar to oystering tongs.’
    • ‘At the same time, the traditional industries of fishing, oystering and lobstering declined drastically as marine wildlife disappeared from the harbor.’


  • the world is your oyster

    • You are in a position to take the opportunities that life has to offer.

      • ‘If you decide to travel, the world is your oyster.’
      • ‘If you win, the world is your oyster.’
      • ‘Well, becoming a medic or vet might be a push, but otherwise, as I've mentioned before, the world is your oyster.’
      • ‘If you're traveling on your own, the world is your oyster.’
      • ‘Once you've completed your training you can begin to hone your creative talents, and the world is your oyster.’
      • ‘When the world is your oyster, you surely have a better chance of finding a pearl.’
      • ‘The world seemed to be their oyster, particularly as second album, Utopia Parkway, found its way onto several year end best of lists.’
      • ‘Then, who knows where the night will take you… maybe Beach Street, or the Bahama Hut… the world is your oyster!’
      • ‘‘When you're young, you think the world is your oyster,’ says Grand-Maitre, looking back.’
      • ‘If it is to be a summer border, full of foliage and flower in a sunny and sheltered spot, the world is your oyster.’


Middle English: from Old French oistre, via Latin from Greek ostreon; related to osteon ‘bone’ and ostrakon ‘shell or tile’.