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 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 Work published this week in Current Biology by Karin Kjernsmo at the University of Bristol suggests, however, that the jewel beetle’s iridescence is neither of these. The Economist, "Bright, iridescent beetles are surprisingly well camouflaged," 23 Jan. 2020 But a counterintuitive theory first proposed a century ago posits that iridescence might instead be a form of camouflage. Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Science | AAAS, "This shiny beetle case is a surprising form of camouflage," 23 Jan. 2020 To better understand how hummingbirds achieve this eye-popping iridescence, Eliason and his colleagues examined microscopic, light-reflecting structures called melanosomes in their feathers. Kate Baggaley, Popular Science, "Hummingbirds get their wild coloring from ‘air-filled pancakes’ in their feathers," 10 Jan. 2020 Sticking CDs and DVDs in the freezer produced frost and water droplets that magnified the iridescence beneath. Laura Mallonee, Wired, "The Psychedelic Beauty of Destroyed CDs," 18 Dec. 2019 There was an unusual luster to his fur, a silvery iridescence. David Canfield,, "Exclusive preview: Grace Lin fashions a gorgeous original Mulan novel," 24 Oct. 2019

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

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The first known use of iridescence was in 1804

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Statistics for iridescence

Last Updated

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Iridescence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Mar. 2020.

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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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