cow·​rie ˈkau̇-rē How to pronounce cowrie (audio)
variants or less commonly cowry
plural cowries
: any of various marine gastropods (family Cypraeidae) that are widely distributed in warm seas and have glossy and often brightly colored shells
also : the shell of a cowrie

Examples of cowrie in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The significance of the cowrie shell in Ghana dates to its historical use as currency, and by extension, its connotation with wealth and abundance. Skylar Mitchell, Essence, 14 Mar. 2024 Actor Theo Iyer also made a statement in a Kwasi Paul design with cowrie shell piping. Christian Allaire, Vogue, 25 Feb. 2024 For centuries, cowrie shells have had a deep cultural and spiritual significance in many African cultures and were once even used as currency across continents. Gabi Thorne, Allure, 23 Oct. 2023 Joe Bagley, Boston’s archaeologist, and his team uncovered a pea-size cowrie shell, which was often used as currency during the slave trade. Tiana Woodard,, 1 Sep. 2023 Cropped Cut With her cowrie shell ear cuff, this CurlFest attendee shows us that earrings can be an accessory with cropped cuts. ELLE, 21 July 2023 Patterns made in a joyful colour palette and cowrie shell details pay homage to South Africa. Amanda Randone,, 13 Apr. 2023 The bark skirt is paired with a top made from abalone and northern cowrie shells, as well as a basket-style hat woven from Juncus and deer grass. Lauren J. Mapp, San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Apr. 2023 Patterns made in a joyful color palette and cowrie shell details pay homage to South Africa. Amanda Randone,, 13 Apr. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cowrie.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Hindi & Urdu kauṛī

First Known Use

1662, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cowrie was in 1662

Dictionary Entries Near cowrie

Cite this Entry

“Cowrie.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


variants also cowry
plural cowries
: any of numerous usually small snails of warm seas with glossy often brightly colored shells

More from Merriam-Webster on cowrie

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