oys·​ter ˈȯi-stər How to pronounce oyster (audio)
often attributive
: 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
: any of various mollusks resembling or related to the oysters
: something that is or can be readily made to serve one's personal ends
the world was her oyster
: a small mass of muscle contained in a concavity of the pelvic bone on each side of the back of a fowl
: an extremely taciturn person
: a grayish-white color

Examples of oyster in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some of these creatures are oysters, shrimp, fish, and blue crabs. Stacey Leasca, Southern Living, 16 Sep. 2023 And big, juicy oysters are dressed not with watery mignonette but a sunny quail egg yolk, pearls of seaweed, and fragrant black vinegar. Elazar Sontag, Bon Appétit, 13 Sep. 2023 The raw bar features prominently with caviar service, oysters, king crab legs, salmon tartare and more, as does the wood grill with options for various steak cuts, seafood, whole rotisserie chicken and sides like spinach gratin, grilled green beans and pomme purée. Stephanie Breijo, Los Angeles Times, 12 Sep. 2023 The party started at 7 P.M. and went until 11 P.M. Seafood was served, with oysters set on ice towers engraved with J.Crew’s name. Alyssa Bailey, ELLE, 6 Sep. 2023 The younger declares the same, before promptly ordering a round of oysters and hamburgers. Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 5 Sep. 2023 Deals range from $1.50 oysters on Sundays and three fish tacos for $6.99, to its signature Krazy Ceviche for $18, normally $26. Carlos Rico, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Aug. 2023 The town is the only coastal community in Florida where farming is the main economic driver — in this case, aquaculture from clams and oysters, mostly — rather than tourism. Lori Rozsa, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2023 Modeled on an Italian trattoria and shellfish bar, Vinny’s will offer oysters, clams, shrimp and fresh fish delivered daily from each coast. Bob Bong, Chicago Tribune, 22 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'oyster.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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.

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near oyster

Cite this Entry

“Oyster.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oyster. Accessed 25 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


oys·​ter ˈȯi-stər How to pronounce oyster (audio)
: any of various marine mollusks that include important edible shellfish and have a rough uneven shell made up of two hinged parts and closed by a single muscle

More from Merriam-Webster on oyster

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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