noun, often attributive
oys·​ter | \ ˈȯi-stər How to pronounce oyster (audio) \

Definition of oyster

1a : any of various marine bivalve mollusks (family Ostreidae) that have a rough irregular shell closed by a single adductor muscle and include commercially important shellfish
b : any of various mollusks resembling or related to the oysters
2 : something that is or can be readily made to serve one's personal ends the world was her oyster
3 : a small mass of muscle contained in a concavity of the pelvic bone on each side of the back of a fowl
4 : an extremely taciturn person
5 : a grayish-white color

Examples of oyster in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Spoon 2 teaspoons of Bailey’s melted garlic-parsley butter on each oyster, and dig in. Coastal Living, Southern Living, "4 Delicious Ways to Cook Oysters," 1 July 2020 The world is your oyster, and everything can be a prop or a tool. Harry Guinness, Popular Science, "Take better selfies with these lighting and angle tips," 17 June 2020 Five minutes down the road, eternally popular Hog Island Oyster Co. has reopened its outdoor bayfront oyster bar, reservations only; or grab a bushel of oysters and a shucking knife to go and throw your own picnic back at the cottage. Carey Jones, Condé Nast Traveler, "7 Best Weekend Getaways in California," 15 June 2020 Doc Crow's Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar at 127 W. Main St. in downtown Louisville has had to eliminate some types of oysters from its menu, as well as other seafood that doesn't stay fresh, said manager Spencer Bottoms. Savannah Eadens, The Courier-Journal, "Some Louisville restaurants have been closed nearly two months. It won't be easy to reopen," 20 May 2020 Bumping up your intake of iron-rich foods such as dark, leafy greens, oysters, lentils and soybeans is another good option. Jen Rose Smith, CNN, "Worried about beef shortages and price spikes? Here's what happens if you eat less meat," 18 May 2020 Whales and porpoises are swimming in the river; otters, oysters, beavers, mink and more are part of an abundant ecosystem, with walnut, hickory and chestnut trees. Penn Bullock, New York Times, "Jobless Claims, Food Supply, Rovers: Your Thursday Evening Briefing," 14 May 2020 The most recent cases featured oysters, swordfish, California halibut and scallops among the selection. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, azcentral, "The food-lover's guide to finding meat, eggs, produce and more in metro Phoenix," 1 Apr. 2020 Salmon, clams, oysters, shrimp and other seafood went to staff, according to chef Ben Dyer. Michael Russell, oregonlive, "Pickles, steaks and 4,000 eggs: Portland restaurants give away thousands of pounds of food overnight," 20 Mar. 2020

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

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

History and Etymology for oyster

Middle English oistre, borrowed from Anglo-French oistre, ostre, going back to Latin ostrea, ostreum "bivalve mollusk, oyster," borrowed from Greek óstreion, óstreon, of uncertain origin

Note: Greek óstreion has traditionally been taken to be a derivative, with a suffix -ei-, of a stem going back to Indo-European *h3esth1-r-, from the base *h3esth1- "bone." See note at ostracon.

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Time Traveler for oyster

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for oyster

Last Updated

6 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Oyster.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oyster. Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for oyster


How to pronounce oyster (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of oyster

: a type of shellfish that has a rough shell with two parts and that is eaten both cooked and raw


oys·​ter | \ ˈȯi-stər How to pronounce oyster (audio) \

Kids Definition of oyster

: a shellfish that lives on stony bottoms ( oyster beds ) in shallow seawater, has a rough grayish shell made up of two hinged parts, and is often used for food

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More from Merriam-Webster on oyster

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with oyster

Spanish Central: Translation of oyster

Nglish: Translation of oyster for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of oyster for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about oyster

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