ivory

noun
ivo·​ry | \ ˈīv-rē How to pronounce ivory (audio) , ˈī-və-rē\
plural ivories

Definition of ivory

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 : a variable color averaging a pale yellow
3 slang : tooth
4 : something (such as a piano key) made of ivory or of a similar substance

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Other Words from ivory

ivory adjective

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.

Examples of ivory in a Sentence

a carved piece of ivory

Recent Examples on the Web

Also: Phoebe Philo’s last collection for Céline opened with a chocolate- and ivory-striped leather dress, which nodded to 1970s menswear. Emily Farra, Vogue, "Serenity Now: The Curious Trend of Earth Colors," 23 July 2018 Her oven backsplash was salvaged ivory-color tile and the countertops a milky onyx. Hayley Krischer, New York Times, "Leanne Ford Explores the Many Shades of White," 8 May 2018 And Angolan beauty Maria Borges served up a red carpet-worthy look in her ivory off-the-shoulder bustier and ruffled skirt. Thomas Delage, Vogue, "Beauties in Brock Collection Gathered for a Meal to Celebrate the Brand's New Capsule Collection," 4 Mar. 2019 Blessed’ shift dress, which retails for $1,285, takes around one day to make and is available in ivory, ink, and black. Prue Lewington, Harper's BAZAAR, "Australian Designer Karen Gee Reacts to Meghan Markle Wearing Her Dress on Tour," 16 Oct. 2018 Sarah wore an embroidered ivory silk wedding dress designed by Lindka Cierach. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "A Complete Timeline of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson's Relationship," 8 Oct. 2018 The dress, which was made with ivory silk Radzimir and designed by Givenchy Haute Couture, featured short puff sleeves and was finished off with a pretty double silk ribbon in the back. Southern Living, "What a Sweetheart: Princess Charlotte Aces Bridesmaid Duties For the Second Time," 19 May 2018 Elizabeth’s dress was made from ivory silk and embellished with 10,000 pearls. Jennifer Hassan, BostonGlobe.com, "A look at the royal wedding traditions — and pressures — that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry face," 16 May 2018 In 1981, roughly 17 million Americans tuned into watch Diana arrive in a glass coach and walk down the aisle at Westminster Abbey in an ivory-silk gown with 10,000 pearls and a 25-foot train. Moni Basu, CNN, "A royal skeptic meets Americans obsessed with Harry and Meghan," 5 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of ivory

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for ivory

Middle English ivorie, from Anglo-French ivoire, ivurie, from Latin eboreus of ivory, from ebor-, ebur ivory, from Egyptian ʾ̹b, ʾ̹bw elephant, ivory

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Statistics for ivory

Last Updated

15 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ivory

The first known use of ivory was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for ivory

ivory

noun

English Language Learners Definition of ivory

: a hard white substance that forms the tusks of elephants and other animals
: a slightly yellowish white color
informal : a piano key

ivory

noun
ivo·​ry | \ ˈī-və-rē How to pronounce ivory (audio) , ˈīv-rē\
plural ivories

Kids Definition of ivory

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

ivory

noun
ivo·​ry | \ ˈīv-(ə-)rē How to pronounce ivory (audio) \
plural ivories

Medical Definition of ivory

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

Other Words from ivory

ivory adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on ivory

Spanish Central: Translation of ivory

Nglish: Translation of ivory for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ivory for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ivory

Comments on ivory

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