1

tortoiseshell

play
noun tor·toise·shell \ˈtȯr-tə-ˌshel, -əsh-ˌshel\

Definition of tortoiseshell

  1. 1 :  the mottled horny substance of the shell of the hawksbill turtle used especially formerly in inlaying and in making various ornamental articles

  2. 2 or tortoiseshell butterfly :  any of several showy nymphalid butterflies (genera Nymphalis and Aglais) that have wings mottled with orange and brown or black

First Known Use of tortoiseshell

1632


2

tortoiseshell

adjective tor·toise·shell

Definition of tortoiseshell

  1. 1 :  made of or resembling tortoiseshell especially in mottled brown and yellow coloring tortoiseshell glasses

  2. 2 :  of, relating to, or being a color pattern of the domestic cat consisting of patches of black, orange, and cream

First Known Use of tortoiseshell

1651


TORTOISESHELL Defined for English Language Learners

tortoiseshell

play
noun

Definition of tortoiseshell for English Language Learners

  • : the usually brown and yellow shell of a turtle that is used to make decorations

  • : a cat with yellow, orange, white, and black fur

  • : a usually brown and orange butterfly


TORTOISESHELL Defined for Kids

tortoiseshell

play
noun tor·toise·shell \ˈtȯr-təs-ˌshel\

Definition of tortoiseshell for Students

  1. 1 :  a hard brown and yellow material that covers the shell of a sea tortoise used especially in the past for ornamental objects

  2. 2 :  a brightly colored butterfly



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to reach the highest or a decisive point

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • istock-refers-to-this-as-a-tumble-of-strawberries-which-sounded-pretty-nice-to-us
  • Which is a synonym of garner?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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