Definition of tortoiseshell in English:

tortoiseshell

noun

  • 1The semitransparent mottled yellow and brown shell of certain turtles, typically used to make jewelry or ornaments.

    • ‘It was a strange coloured little creature, speckled brown like tortoiseshell.’
    • ‘There is jewelry incorporating hair, enamel, engraving, casting, and die-stamping, as well as objects made from unusual materials such as tortoiseshell, wood, and vulcanite.’
    • ‘We've also found tortoiseshell, great white shark teeth.’
    • ‘It is smaller than the green turtle (length of carapace unlikely to be more than 75 cm / 30) and less sought after as food than as the source of tortoiseshell.’
    • ‘The wearing of penile sheaths made from a diversity of substances - linen, gourds, tortoiseshell, leather, silk, oiled paper - has been known in numerous societies from distant antiquity.’
    • ‘Tanjung Benoa, on the southeast coast of Bali, is the centre of a deadly illegal trade in tortoiseshell and meat that is threatening to exterminate one of the world's most ancient species.’
    • ‘All the timber used on the building came from the Barns Estate, from the white fir floor in the bedroom to the beautiful solid elm doors with their tortoiseshell markings.’
    • ‘Along with other large case pieces, desks-and-bookcases were often covered with herringbone-patterned veneer in exotic woods or tortoiseshell.’
    • ‘Cottier inlaid it with tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl in panels depicting musical instruments and masks on the lid and nine portraits of famous composers around the sides.’
    • ‘In the centre of the First State Room is a kneehole writing-desk of about 1680, veneered with brass and pewter marquetry on a ground of tortoiseshell backed with red pigment.’
    • ‘Gold, silver, Boulle marquetry of brass, pewter, porcelain, tortoiseshell, ebony ivory, and rare woods were all used.’
    • ‘Most extraordinary of all is a colossal pair of tortoiseshell and ivory globular vases and covers, probably made as exhibition pieces.’
    • ‘Later netsuke, figures and works of art could have considerable amounts of inlay in mother-of-pearl, amber, coconut, tortoiseshell and stained ivory.’
    • ‘It talks of the land of Azania where ‘there is much ivory and tortoiseshell.’’
    • ‘It was full of leather and clad about with some rather unhappy tortoiseshell detailing.’
    • ‘The seemingly random splotches of bold color mimicked the appearance of tortoiseshell while simultaneously obscuring flaws still evident in the body and glaze of many pieces.’
    • ‘Celluloid, a sheet material shaped with heat, replaced ivory or tortoiseshell in combs and accessories.’
    • ‘Cascades of earls, rubies, sapphires, diamonds and tortoiseshell hatpins, 76 items in all, poured out.’
    • ‘They often had tortoiseshell veneer and ivory and mother-of-pearl inlays.’
    • ‘These included shell, coral, tortoiseshell, lava, jet, ivory, and paste.’
    • ‘Any suitable material may be used, including quill, parchment, wood, ivory, bone, horn, tortoiseshell, and plastic.’
    • ‘Steer clear of anything containing black coral or tortoiseshell; both materials are contraband and you won't get them through customs at home.’
    • ‘Close in date to the kneehole desk is a small mantel clock on the chimneypiece of the Green Drawing Room, veneered with red tortoiseshell and surmounted by a figure of Fame.’
    • ‘Each little box and bottle was lidded with silver and tortoiseshell and those same materials were to be found on the numerous combs and brushes.’
    • ‘For centuries hawksbills have been hunted for this carapace, the natural source of tortoiseshell, and for eggs highly prized in some societies.’
    • ‘Originals or copies of Greek statues, objects of gold or silver, ivory or tortoiseshell, intaglios, cameos, and vases of precious stone accumulated in Roman palaces and villas, and statuary adorned their gardens.’
    1. 1.1 A synthetic substance made to imitate tortoiseshell.
      • ‘A man wearing tortoiseshell glasses and a trench coat emerged from nowhere, grabbed Croce, and hugged him.’
      • ‘‘I really can't discuss it,’ he says, rubbing his eyes, behind tortoiseshell designer spectacles, with his small, neat hands.’
      • ‘She had thick brown hair that piled unceremoniously on her head and green tortoiseshell glasses.’
      • ‘I also noticed that my glasses, once tortoiseshell and chic, had become wire frame and sort of angular.’
      • ‘‘It was started off in London by my mother's stepfather, and originally made tortoiseshell frames to the firm's own design,’ says James.’
      • ‘Truthfully, I noticed the broad tortoiseshell glasses surrounding his little brown eyes first.’
      • ‘The diamond-patterned tortoiseshell panel, offset with faux dentils of ivory and macassar ebony, recalls patterns he also used for wall hangings.’
      • ‘His head is round, his beard is graying blond, and he looks out from behind tortoiseshell glasses.’
      • ‘Her eyes were a dark, haunting green, and she wore thick-rimmed tortoiseshell glasses.’
      • ‘A slip of a girl in studious tortoiseshell specs, she doesn't strike one as an obvious sadist.’
      • ‘If you refer to your collection of tortoiseshell guitar picks as plectra, the rest of your rock group are going to make merciless fun of you.’
      • ‘He brushed a fringe of fine, mousy hair from his face and pushed his imitation tortoiseshell glasses up his narrow nose.’
      • ‘You just pay a lot of money,’ he tells me, polishing his decades-old tortoiseshell spectacles across the table linen. ‘I could put my prices up to any level and the tourists would still come.’
      • ‘Her baby blues flick over to me as she tucks some of her thin copper hair behind one ear, simultaneously adjusting her round tortoiseshell glasses.’
      • ‘She had graying dark brown hair, and against the unspoken rules of rigid, authoritative women everywhere, she wore it not in a bun, but clipped away from her face with handsome tortoiseshell clips.’
      • ‘Outdoor wicker furniture provides a comfy place to take a break, and tortoiseshell shades can be lowered for privacy.’
      • ‘Take, for example, the non-conformist Enid, who delights in wearing retro tortoiseshell specs, thrift-store garb and gaudy lipstick and despises all around her.’
      • ‘Thus it was that, early in the year, among many other fairly dodgy frames on offer in M&S, I found myself contemplating a big pair of mock tortoiseshell Seventies-influenced shades.’
      • ‘Decree Nisis should come with a guide to growing a pencil moustache for men and a floor length negligee and tortoiseshell cigarette holder for women.’
      • ‘I was not much of an athlete and so nearsighted that by third grade I wore gigantic tortoiseshell glasses.’
  • 2

    • ‘The pair consisted of a tortoiseshell and white female called Madame Butterfly and a red and white male called Richard.’
    • ‘Rainbow is a typical tortoiseshell with splotches of brown, tan and gold on white. Cc has a striped grey coat over white.’
    • ‘The cat could be a tabby, a tortoiseshell, maybe even a Siamese.’
    • ‘It is just a quirk that people would rather take on coloured cats like tortoiseshells.’
    • ‘It also shared the Siamese's pointed color pattern, but in the untraditional colors of red, cream, tortoiseshell and lynx points.’
    • ‘The lithe tortoiseshell regarded the offending human, then ambled toward the porch rail with nonchalant disgust and mounted it without disturbing a whisker.’
    • ‘The tortoiseshell, who is 110 years old in human terms, was left homeless after her elderly owner, from Chorlton, passed away.’
    • ‘Researchers in Texas created the fluffy kitten, named Cc, from a cell taken from an adult tortoiseshell female.’
    • ‘In several issues there were discussions of tortoiseshell male cats.’
    • ‘One of the curlicues was a black-and-white shorthair male; one was a black shorthair female; the third was a tortoiseshell shorthair female.’
    • ‘First family pet was a lovely tortoiseshell and white cat called Pickles (Piccalilli).’
    • ‘The other is a fat tortoiseshell with a lot of white called Sophie.’
    • ‘In November 2001, the friendly tortoiseshell, named after the man who cared for her, became a stowaway on methanol tanker Tomiwaka, which was bound for Korea.’
    • ‘She was just sitting quietly one afternoon at a friend's house in Naklua when a tiny tortoiseshell kitten walked inside and mewed at her.’
    • ‘Furthermore, ‘solid colors, tortoiseshells and bicolors have a smoother, softer coat than tabbies‘; and during hot weather, ‘the tail, ear and toe tufts ‘are the only factors that ‘distinguish the cat as a longhair.’’
    • ‘She is a black tortoiseshell, and is very dark but has small flecks of brown grey and ginger in her coat.’
    • ‘It is to a ruby eyed raven as a tortoiseshell is to a calico.’
    • ‘Presently, they have a mature adult tortoiseshell female who was spotted astray in Kirkbymoorside for several months before being brought into their care with a nasty skin infection around her head.’
    • ‘Back in our chamber I sat down upon Burginde's bed and stroked the tortoiseshell kitten in silence.’
    • ‘The pair inherited the tortoiseshell and white cat eight years ago and he has gradually got fatter over the years.’
  • 3

    • ‘Not just the usual cabbage whites this year, but tortoiseshells, red admirals, painted ladies and peacock butterflies too.’
    • ‘A tortoiseshell sipping nectar from my grape hyacinths.’

Pronunciation

tortoiseshell

/ˈtɔrdə(s)ˌʃɛl//ˈtôrdə(s)ˌSHel/