ir·​i·​des·​cent | \ ˌir-ə-ˈde-sᵊnt How to pronounce iridescent (audio) \

Definition of iridescent

: having or exhibiting iridescence

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Other Words from iridescent

iridescently adverb

Did You Know?

Iris, the Greek goddess of the rainbow, took messages from Mount Olympus to earth, and from gods to mortals or other gods, using the rainbow as her stairway. Iridescence is thus the glowing, shifting, colorful quality of a rainbow, also seen in an opal, a light oil slick, a butterfly wing, or the mother-of-pearl that lines an oyster shell.

Examples of iridescent in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Hummingbirds aren’t the only birds that are iridescent, meaning that when light strikes their feathers it is scattered to create a lustrous glint that changes depending on the viewing angle. Kate Baggaley, Popular Science, "Hummingbirds get their wild coloring from ‘air-filled pancakes’ in their feathers," 10 Jan. 2020 Researchers at the University of Western Australia found that males of the nocturnal moth species have iridescent scales that make their black spots shape-shift depending on what angle they’re viewed at. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "These Nocturnal Moths Sparkle at Night," 3 Jan. 2020 In the image, Carlisle's leg is literally bursting open with iridescent scales in three different spots–each legion surrounded by jagged skin, bruises, and dry blood. Kelsi Zimmerman, Marie Claire, "Fair Warning: This Beauty Vlogger's Grisly Mermaid Scales Can't Be Unseen," 22 May 2017 The shoes were the star of her outfit, and appeared to come in an iridescent snakeskin print. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "Katie Holmes' Blue Oxfords Are the Coolest Shoes in Her Closet," 28 Jan. 2020 To find out, researchers filled nearly 900 jewel beetle wing cases, some naturally iridescent (above) and some painted with plain colors, with worms. Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Science | AAAS, "This shiny beetle case is a surprising form of camouflage," 23 Jan. 2020 Not realizing that the greenery background accentuates her iridescent colors. Tom Stienstra,, "The 8 best wildlife photos from 2019 in California," 18 Jan. 2020 Lugano, meanwhile, masterfully mixed such materials as abalone, diamond, and tsavorite to create an iridescent pastel dream. The Editors, Town & Country, "The 2020 Town & Country Jewelry Awards," 17 Jan. 2020 By contrast, in dabbling ducks (a group with iridescent wings that includes mallards), these structures have evolved in tandem, Eliason says. Kate Baggaley, Popular Science, "Hummingbirds get their wild coloring from ‘air-filled pancakes’ in their feathers," 10 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'iridescent.' 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 iridescent

1796, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for iridescent

Greek īrid-, îris "rainbow, iridescent halo around the moon, a flame, etc." + -escent — more at iris entry 1

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Time Traveler for iridescent

Time Traveler

The first known use of iridescent was in 1796

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Statistics for iridescent

Last Updated

26 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Iridescent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for iridescent


How to pronounce iridescent (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of iridescent

: shining with many different colors when seen from different angles


ir·​i·​des·​cent | \ ˌir-ə-ˈde-sᵊnt How to pronounce iridescent (audio) \

Kids Definition of iridescent

: having iridescence


ir·​i·​des·​cent | \ ˌir-ə-ˈdes-ᵊnt How to pronounce iridescent (audio) \

Medical Definition of iridescent

: having or exhibiting a display of colors producing rainbow effects

Other Words from iridescent

iridescence \ -​ᵊn(t)s How to pronounce iridescence (audio) \ noun

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