A cowrie is a marine mollusk, a sea creature with a bright, glossy shell. The largest number of cowries live in the Indian Ocean.

Cowrie shells were once a common form of currency, traded as money or worn as jewelry. They are particularly beautiful, shiny as porcelain (a word that's derived from the old Italian term for cowrie, porcellana). In North America, cowries are common along parts of the California coast, in Mexico, and in some parts of the Southeastern U.S. Cowrie is from the Hindi and Urdu kauri and a Sanskrit root, kaparda, "shell."

Definitions of cowrie
  1. noun
    any of numerous tropical marine gastropods of the genus Cypraea having highly polished usually brightly marked shells
    synonyms: cowry
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    Cypraea moneta, money cowrie
    cowrie whose shell is used for money in parts of the southern Pacific and in parts of Africa
    Cypraea tigris, tiger cowrie
    cowrie whose shell is used for ornament
    type of:
    gastropod, univalve
    a class of mollusks typically having a one-piece coiled shell and flattened muscular foot with a head bearing stalked eyes
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