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 For iridescence and translucence, the Judson windows are hard to match. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "Tiffany Fireworks in Manhattan Stained Glass," 21 Nov. 2020 Or perhaps a cross between a pig and a snail that shimmers with a psychedelic iridescence? Christof Koch, Scientific American, "Teaching Machines to See," 1 Nov. 2015 From the flashiness of fish scales to the luster of butterfly wings, iridescence is everywhere. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Glitzy Beetles Use Their Sparkle for Camouflage," 29 Jan. 2020 In birds, melanosomes, which are little packets of melanin pigment surrounded by keratin protein create this iridescence effect. Kate Baggaley, Popular Science, "Hummingbirds get their wild coloring from ‘air-filled pancakes’ in their feathers," 10 Jan. 2020 Silky and shiny with a touch of trendy iridescence, these cookies are an elegant update to seasonal pastels. Bh&g Holiday Editors, Better Homes & Gardens, "6 Stunning Easter Cookie Decorating Ideas You Need to Try This Weekend," 7 Apr. 2020 The study is the first to show that iridescence can work as a form of camouflage, the researchers report. Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Science | AAAS, "This shiny beetle case is a surprising form of camouflage," 23 Jan. 2020 He was particularly fascinated by the phenomenon of iridescence: many species exhibit bright, metallic jewel tones that shift hues depending on viewing angle. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Jewel beetle’s bright colored shell serves as camouflage from predators," 23 Jan. 2020 The idea that iridescence could be a tool used by animals to hide is over a hundred years old. Sara Kiley Watson, Popular Science, "To remain hidden, these beetles sparkle like gems," 23 Jan. 2020

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.

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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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Time Traveler for iridescence

Time Traveler

The first known use of iridescence was in 1804

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Cite this Entry

“Iridescence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

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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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