1

iris

play
noun \ ˈī-rəs \
Updated on: 11 Sep 2017

Definition of iris

plural irises also irides play \ˈī-rə-ˌdēz, ˈir-ə-\
1 :rainbow
2
a :the opaque contractile diaphragm perforated by the pupil and forming the colored portion of the eye — see eye illustration
b :iris diaphragm; also :a similar device with a circular opening that can be varied in size
3 also plural iris :any of a large genus (Iris of the family Iridaceae, the iris family) of perennial herbaceous plants with linear usually basal leaves and large showy flowers

Recent Examples of iris from the Web

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

Illustration of iris

Origin and Etymology of iris

Middle English, "iris of the eye, the plant Iris germanica," borrowed from Latin īrid-, īris "rainbow, the plant Iris pallida or related species," borrowed from Greek īrid-, îris "rainbow, iridescent halo around the moon, a flame, etc., iris of the eye, the plant Iris pallida or related species," going back to *wīrid-, *wīris, of uncertain origin
Note: Traditionally, Greek îris "rainbow" (for which an original digamma [letter representing the sound w] is assured by an inscription from Corinth and the metrics of epic poetry) has been regarded as a derivative of Indo-European *u̯ei̯H- "plait, wrap," parallel to Germanic *wīr- (see 1wire). However, the variant éris recorded by the Greek lexicographer Hesychius, as well as the dubious character of *wīrid- as an Indo-European formation (< *u̯ih1-r-i-?) has drawn this etymology into question. Perhaps a substratal word.

Other Seed Plant Terms


2

iris

verb

Definition of iris

transitive verb
:to make iridescent

First Known Use of iris

1816


Iris

play
noun \ ˈī-rəs \

Definition of Iris

:the Greek goddess of the rainbow and a messenger of the gods

Recent Examples of iris from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of iris

Latin, from Greek

Other Mythology and Folklore Terms


IRIS Defined for English Language Learners

iris

play
noun

Definition of iris for English Language Learners

  • : the colored part of your eye

  • : a plant with long pointed leaves and large blue or yellow flowers


IRIS Defined for Kids

iris

play
noun \ ˈī-rəs \

Definition of iris for Students

1 :the colored part around the pupil of an eye
2 :a plant with long pointed leaves and large usually brightly colored flowers

Medical Dictionary

iris

play
noun \ ˈī-rəs \

medical Definition of iris

plural irises or irides play \ˈī-rə-ˌdēz, ˈir-ə-\
1 :the opaque muscular contractile diaphragm that is suspended in the aqueous humor in front of the lens of the eye, is perforated by the pupil and is continuous peripherally with the ciliary body, has a deeply pigmented posterior surface which excludes the entrance of light except through the pupil and a colored anterior surface which determines the color of the eyes

Illustration of iris



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