ir·​i·​des·​cence ˌir-ə-ˈde-sᵊn(t)s How to pronounce iridescence (audio)
: a lustrous rainbowlike play of color caused by differential refraction of light waves (as from an oil slick, soap bubble, or fish scales) that tends to change as the angle of view changes
: a lustrous or attractive quality or effect

Examples of iridescence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Matte iridescence camouflages beetles better than glossy iridescence. Will Stephenson, Harper's Magazine, 16 Aug. 2023 Biologists have mostly thought of iridescence as a way for animals to show off to attract mates. Joshua Rapp Learn, Discover Magazine, 19 Mar. 2020 Our attentions are captured through bright colors, iridescence, and thrashing. WIRED, 10 Aug. 2023 In birds, iridescence is typically seen in pheasants, ducks, pigeons, kingfishers, a variety of songbirds, such as starlings and birds of paradise, some lories (ref) — and especially in those champions of iridescence, the hummingbirds. Grrlscientist, Forbes, 26 June 2022 Shifting their bodies to show off their shine, male riflebirds make strategic use of their iridescence to attract female mates and outshine male competitors. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 12 May 2023 In 2013, Roslyn Dakin, a zoologist at the University of British Columbia, proved the hue and iridescence of a peacock’s blue-green eyespots overwhelmingly influences mating success. Carl Engelking, Discover Magazine, 27 Apr. 2016 The riflebirds — a group that includes the magnificent riflebird (Ptiloris magnificus), the paradise riflebird (Ptiloris paradiseus), and the Victoria's riflebird (Ptiloris victoriae) — all share a splash of blue-green iridescence across their breasts. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 12 May 2023 Instead, Radiant Matter uses cellulose derived from wood to create a natural iridescence without the use of dyes, petroleum, or metals. Sarah Spellings, Vogue, 9 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History


irid(escent) + -escence

First Known Use

1804, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of iridescence was in 1804

Dictionary Entries Near iridescence

Cite this Entry

“Iridescence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


ir·​i·​des·​cence ˌir-ə-ˈdes-ᵊn(t)s How to pronounce iridescence (audio)
: a play of colors producing rainbow effects (as in a soap bubble)
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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