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

The oyster itself was nondescript, providing the only mediocre point of the meal. Lindsey Mcclave, The Courier-Journal, "This Old Louisville restaurant is the best in the city, our dining critic says," 17 July 2019 Indeed, oysters are among its most popular menu items. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Don't miss these restaurants at the Free Press' Wine + Food Experience," 11 July 2019 To the ancient Romans, the apple was a more luxurious fruit than the fig; in Victorian times, the oyster was a cheap snack rather than a deluxe dinner. Bee Wilson, WSJ, "True Luxury in Food Doesn’t Cost a Fortune," 14 June 2019 The menu will rotate daily, and oysters will be from various parts of the country; bubbly will include Proceco, Cava, champagne, sparkling wine and more. AJC.com, "2 days of free food samples, oysters and bubbly specials and more in metro Atlanta," 14 Jan. 2018 Cuisine: Seafood Ambience: The cavernous dining area has a welcoming, modern-rustic feel with oversized farm tools decorating the walls and a chalkboard map — above the raw bar — of the waterways where the restaurant receives its oysters. John-john Williams Iv, baltimoresun.com, "Touting Maryland's best lobster roll, Walrus Oyster & Ale House lives up to the hype," 4 June 2019 Put in tangential search terms and the world is your oyster. Allison Duncan, WSJ, "The Expert’s Guide to Scoring Décor Deals Online," 14 Feb. 2019 Choose gua bao and Chinese broccoli slathered in oyster sauce. Wei-huan Chen, Houston Chronicle, "To honor Anthony Bourdain, go to Houston's Chinatown," 8 June 2018 Park easily, and the world’s your oyster, and the food, drink and conversation that follow are never better. Vanessa Hua, San Francisco Chronicle, "Happily trying to cover plenty of book events," 26 Apr. 2018

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, from Anglo-French, from Latin ostrea, from Greek ostreon; akin to Greek ostrakon shell, osteon bone — more at osseous

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Dictionary Entries near oyster

oy gevalt!




oyster agaric


oyster bar

Statistics for oyster

Last Updated

8 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for oyster

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

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More Definitions for oyster



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

Comments on oyster

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


a period when something is suspended

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