mother-of-pearl

Mother-of-pearl is a glowing, pearlescent material that's used to make jewelry and ornaments. Mother-of-pearl comes from the inside of oyster and abalone shells.

The iridescent mother-of-pearl that comes from shell linings also covers the outsides of pearls — and while all shells have a version of this material inside them, only in certain cases is it so strikingly beautiful. The scientific word for this substance is nacre. The name mother-of-pearl probably comes from a nearly obsolete meaning of mother, "scrum, dregs or leftover filth."

Definitions of mother-of-pearl
  1. noun
    the iridescent internal layer of a mollusk shell
    synonyms: nacre
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    type of:
    shell
    the material that forms the hard outer covering of many animals
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