ir·​i·​des·​cence | \ ˌir-ə-ˈde-sᵊn(t)s How to pronounce iridescence (audio) \

Definition of iridescence

1 : 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
2 : a lustrous or attractive quality or effect

Examples of iridescence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Diffraction grating alone will reflect the entire spectrum of color, but adds iridescence when accompanied by photonic crystals, Ars Technica reports. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 Dec. 2021 The iridescence on butterfly wings does not occur from pigment molecules but by how the butterfly wing is structured. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 Dec. 2021 The architects tackled this through the use of recurring elements and materials, including solid sandstone exteriors and striking interiors with a mother-of-pearl iridescence -- a nod to Qatar's long history as a major pearl-diving and trading hub. Dimitris Sideridis, CNN, 3 Nov. 2021 The prints’ iridescence can be seen as either natural or industrial, a memory of the polluted landscape where the Wrbicans grew up in western Pennsylvania. Washington Post, 8 Oct. 2021 The long, pointy shape was painted with a metalic bluish-gray slate polish with hints of iridescence. Marci Robin, Allure, 13 Sep. 2021 The result is a spectacular iridescence, with the colors changing according to the light and the angle of the viewer. Carol Besler, Forbes, 3 Sep. 2021 Structural colors also often have the sparkly visual appeal of iridescence. Quanta Magazine, 21 June 2021 Structural colors also often have the sparkly visual appeal of iridescence. Quanta Magazine, 21 June 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'iridescence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of iridescence

1804, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for iridescence

irid(escent) + -escence

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The first known use of iridescence was in 1804

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Cite this Entry

“Iridescence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for iridescence


ir·​i·​des·​cence | \ ˌir-ə-ˈde-sᵊns How to pronounce iridescence (audio) \

Kids Definition of iridescence

: a shifting and constant change of colors producing rainbow effects


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