noun (1)
\ˈpər(-ə)l \

Definition of pearl 

(Entry 1 of 5)

1a : a dense variously colored and usually lustrous concretion formed of concentric layers of mother-of-pearl as an abnormal growth within the shell of some mollusks and used as a gem

b : mother-of-pearl

2 : one that is very choice or precious

3 : something resembling a pearl intrinsically or physically

4 : a nearly neutral slightly bluish medium gray


pearled; pearling; pearls

Definition of pearl (Entry 2 of 5)

transitive verb

1 : to set or adorn with pearls

2 : to sprinkle or bead with pearly drops

3 : to form into small round grains

4 : to give a pearly color or luster to

intransitive verb

1 : to form drops or beads like pearls

2 : to fish or search for pearls



Definition of pearl (Entry 3 of 5)

1a : of, relating to, or resembling pearl

b : made of or adorned with pearls

2 : having medium-sized grains pearl barley


noun (2)

Definition of pearl (Entry 4 of 5)


: picot


geographical name
\ˈpər(-ə)l \

Definition of Pearl (Entry 5 of 5)

1 river about 410 miles (660 kilometers) long in southern Mississippi flowing south into the Gulf of Mexico

2 — see zhu

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Other Words from pearl


pearler \ ˈpər-​lər \ noun

Examples of pearl in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The tiara boasts 19 diamond arches, with pearls dangling from each embellished curve. Michelle Darrisaw, Southern Living, "Kate Middleton Was Just Spotted Wearing the Perfect Royal Accessory—Princess Diana’s Tiara," 14 July 2017 The diamond and pearl Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara, as Vanity Fair notes, was a wedding gift to Princess Diana and known to be one of Diana's favorite pieces. Melissa Minton, Glamour, "Kate Middleton Wears Princess Diana's Favorite Tiara for State Banquet," 13 July 2017 They're then topped with purple icing, covered in sprinkles with purple and white edible pearls, and topped off with a fondant mermaid tale. Danielle Tullo, Cosmopolitan, "These Mermaid Cupcakes Are Pure Magic," 21 June 2017 Usually, the hot season is met with a certain amount of pearl-clutching disbelief by people outside of Arizona. Amy B Wang, Washington Post, "It’s so hot in Phoenix that airplanes can’t fly," 20 June 2017 Quick-cooking pearl barley is a flake that has been partially cooked and dried for quick cooking, similar to instant oatmeal. Jill Wendholt Silva,, "Barley, Leek and Asparagus Skillet melds delicate flavors well," 5 July 2017 Sneakers made by Eytys, sunglasses by Carerra, and lots of jewelry in 18k gold and sterling silver with mother of pearl crosses. Noah Johnson, GQ, "Justin O’Shea Debuts SSS World Corp With a Guerrilla Fashion Show in the Streets of Paris," 24 June 2017 The Duchess of Cambridge stepped to the Royal Ascot today elegantly donning a white lace dress by Alexander McQueen, paired with a matching fascinator and pearl drop earrings. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Stuns in White Lace at the Royal Ascot," 20 June 2017 The clock, plated in mother of pearl, 18K white gold and crystal, also is diamond- and sapphire-encrusted and is referred to on the dealer’s website as the Asprey & Co. Mystery Clock. Katherine Rosenberg-douglas,, "Reward offered for $425K diamond-encrusted clock stolen last month," 20 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This twist on risotto uses pearled barley instead of Arborio rice for a healthier dish. Country Living, "Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash," 20 July 2012 But each version retains its handcrafted hallmarks: supple leather; saddle stitching; and hardware that’s undergone pearling, a technique that polishes and smooths it to glossy perfection. Kimberly Chrisman-campbell, WSJ, "Fall’s A-List Accessory: A Kelly Bag With a Twist," 31 Aug. 2017 The hour markers were pearled, and milled into the champagne dial to pick up its brass hue. Gary Shteyngart, The New Yorker, "Confessions of a Watch Geek," 20 Mar. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Among the options is adaptive front lighting on the XSE ($415), blizzard pearl white paint ($395) and an SE preferred package with upgraded audio, information and app services and blind-spot monitor for $1,400. Jeff Yip, Houston Chronicle, "2019 Toyota Corolla five-door brings latest safety tech to the masses," 26 May 2018 The concealers are formulated with pearl pigments that allegedly brighten skin tone and add a touch of radiance to matte makeup. Shannon Barbour, The Cut, "CoverGirl Launched a New Foundation Line With 40 Shades," 17 May 2018 The Qatar diamond and pearl earrings gifted to Diana by the King of Qatar or a diamond and sapphire suite from the Sultan of Oman in 1986. Tess Kornfeld, Glamour, "Here's How Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Are Honoring Princess Diana on Their Wedding Day," 5 May 2018 Chanel staples were in full swing: pearl necklaces, tweed suiting in all of its changing silhouettes, statement accessories with a twist, and, of course, the Hadid sisters., "The Best Things About This Chanel Show Weren't Even The Clothes," 4 May 2018 Huber-Garcia uses such unusual items as transit tokens and vintage mother of pearl buttons in her pieces. Myrna Petlicki,, "What's Blooming street fair shows off artists' wares in Oak Park," 4 May 2018 When the doll made her debut in 1959 wearing a black-and-white bathing suit and little pearl earrings, Barbie was a teen fashion model. Karla Peterson,, "Relic or role model? A new Hulu documentary takes Barbie very seriously," 1 May 2018 In addition to having a nearly perfect blowout, the Duchess of Cambridge wore pearl earrings, nude heels, and pantyhose, plus a bright-red Jenny Packham shift dress with a lace collar. Emilia Petrarca, The Cut, "Kate Middleton’s Post-Baby Dress Looks Very Familiar," 23 Apr. 2018 The stunning, sculptural piece is available in black, pearl white, silver or brass — and comes with the hefty price tag of $20,000. Jenna Milliner-waddell, ELLE Decor, "Zaha Hadid Design Released A Table Inspired By Princess Leia’s Buns," 20 June 2017

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

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1610, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

1542, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pearl

Noun (1)

Middle English perle, from Anglo-French, probably from Vulgar Latin *pernula, diminutive of Latin perna upper leg, kind of sea mussel; akin to Old English fiersn heel, Greek pternē

Noun (2)

alteration of purl

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Time Traveler for pearl

The first known use of pearl was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for pearl


\ˈpərl \

Kids Definition of pearl

1 : a smooth rounded shiny usually white body that is formed within the shell of some mollusks (as oysters) usually around an irritating particle which has gotten into the shell

3 : something like a pearl in shape, color, or value


\ˈpərl \

Medical Definition of pearl 

1 : perle

2 : one of the rounded concentric masses of squamous epithelial cells characteristic of certain tumors

3 : a miliary leproma of the iris

4 : a rounded abnormal mass of enamel on a tooth

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Comments on pearl

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playful or foolish behavior

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