ivory

play
noun ivo·ry \ˈīv-rē, ˈī-və-rē\

Definition of ivory

plural

ivories

  1. 1a :  the hard creamy-white modified dentine that composes the tusks of a tusked mammal (such as an elephant, walrus, or narwhal)b :  a tusk that yields ivory

  2. 2 :  a variable color averaging a pale yellow

  3. 3 slang :  tooth

  4. 4 :  something (such as a piano key) made of ivory or of a similar substance

ivory

adjective

Examples of ivory in a Sentence

  1. a carved piece of ivory

Recent Examples of ivory from the Web

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

The History of ivory

A hard white substance that is a variety of dentin, ivory makes up the tusks of such animals as elephants, walruses, and preserved mammoths. It is prized for its beauty, durability, and suitability for carving. In ancient times it was treasured as highly as gold and precious stones. Most ivory used commercially once came from Africa, but this trade declined in the 20th century as the populations of African elephants shrank, and increasing worldwide concern about endangered elephant populations led to bans on the export and import of ivory. The once-thriving markets of Europe have shifted to southeast Asia, where skilled artisans, often trading illegally, carve ivory into figurines and other objects.

Origin and Etymology of ivory

Middle English ivorie, from Anglo-French ivoire, ivurie, from Latin eboreus of ivory, from ebor-, ebur ivory, from Egypt ˒ʾb, ˒ʾbw elephant, ivory


IVORY Defined for English Language Learners

ivory

play
noun

Definition of ivory for English Language Learners

  • : a hard white substance that forms the tusks of elephants and other animals

  • : a slightly yellowish white color

  • : a piano key


IVORY Defined for Kids

ivory

play
noun ivo·ry \ˈī-və-rē, ˈīv-rē\

Definition of ivory for Students

plural

ivories

  1. 1 :  a hard creamy-white material that forms the tusks of mammals (as elephants)

  2. 2 :  a creamy white color


Medical Dictionary

ivory

play
noun ivo·ry \ˈīv-(ə-)rē\

Medical Definition of ivory

plural

ivories

  1. :  the hard creamy-white modified dentin that composes the tusks of a tusked mammal and especially the elephant

ivory

adjective

Learn More about ivory


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up ivory? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to counsel, recommend, or inform

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Emoji Quiz

  • emoji-the-quiz
  • What phase of the moon is this: 🌖 ?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!