/tawr"teuhs shel'/, n. Also, tortoise shell.
1. a horny substance of a mottled brown and yellow coloration, composing the laminae that cover the inner body plates of the carapace of a hawksbill turtle, used for making combs and ornamental articles, inlaying, etc.
2. any synthetic substance made to look like natural tortoise shell.
3. Also, tortoiseshell butterfly. any of several nymphalid butterflies of the genus Nymphalis, as N. californica, having variegated markings of red, yellow, or orange on the wings. - adj. Also, tortoise-shell.
4. mottled or variegated like tortoiseshell, esp. with yellow and brown and sometimes other colors.
5. made of tortoiseshell.
[1595-1605; TORTOISE + SHELL]

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      ornamental material obtained from the curved horny shields forming the shell of the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). The marbled, varicoloured pattern and deep translucence of the plates have long been valued for manufacture of jewelry and other items. Tortoiseshell was imported to Rome from Egypt, and in 17th-century France, tortoiseshell work was raised to the level of artistry for jewel cases, trays, snuffboxes, and other decorated articles. The craft soon spread to other parts of Europe, where it was also highly developed.

      Tortoiseshell is first separated from the bony skeleton by heat; the shields are flattened by heat and pressure, and irregularities are rasped away. Tortoiseshell is easily molded by heat and pressure and can be shaped on a lathe. The use of tortoiseshell, however, is illegal today in many parts of the world.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Tortoiseshell — can refer to: tortoiseshell material, made primarily from the shell of the Hawksbill turtle Tortoiseshell cat, a pattern used in clothing and jewellery tortoiseshell butterflies, brush footed butterflies (Nymphalidae) in the genera Aglais and… …   Wikipedia

  • tortoiseshell — ► NOUN 1) the semi transparent mottled yellow and brown shell of certain turtles, used to make jewellery or ornaments. 2) a domestic cat with markings resembling tortoiseshell. 3) a butterfly with mottled orange, yellow, and black markings …   English terms dictionary

  • tortoiseshell — [tôrt′əsshel΄] n. 1. the hard, mottled, yellow and brown shell of some turtles and tortoises, used in inlaying and, esp. formerly, in making combs, frames for eyeglasses, etc. 2. a synthetic substance made in imitation of this 3. a mottled,… …   English World dictionary

  • tortoiseshell — n. & adj. n. 1 the yellowish brown mottled or clouded outer shell of some turtles, used for decorative hair combs, jewellery, etc. 2 a = tortoiseshell cat. b = tortoiseshell butterfly. adj. having the colouring or appearance of tortoiseshell.… …   Useful english dictionary

  • tortoiseshell — [[t]tɔ͟ː(r)təsʃel[/t]] tortoiseshells 1) N UNCOUNT Tortoiseshell is the hard shell of a kind of sea turtle. It is brown and yellow in colour and is often polished and used to make jewellery and ornaments. 2) ADJ: usu ADJ n Tortoiseshell means… …   English dictionary

  • tortoiseshell — /ˈtɔtəʃɛl / (say tawtuhshel) noun 1. the horny substance, with a mottled or clouded yellow and brown colouration, composing the plates or scales that cover the marine tortoiseshell turtle, of the genus Eretmochelys, formerly used for making combs …  

  • tortoiseshell — tor•toise•shell [[t]ˈtɔr təsˌʃɛl[/t]] n. Also, tor′toise shell . 1) ram the horny brown and yellow layer on the outer surface of the hawksbill turtle s carapace, used for making combs and ornamental articles 2) any synthetic substance made to… …   From formal English to slang

  • tortoiseshell — I. noun Date: 1632 1. the mottled horny substance of the shell of the hawksbill turtle used especially formerly in inlaying and in making various ornamental articles 2. any of several showy nymphalid butterflies (genera Nymphalis and Aglais) II.… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • tortoiseshell — noun 1》 the semi transparent mottled yellow and brown shell of certain turtles, typically used to make jewellery or ornaments.     ↘a synthetic imitation of this. 2》 a domestic cat with markings resembling tortoiseshell. 3》 a butterfly with… …   English new terms dictionary

  • tortoiseshell — UK [ˈtɔː(r)təsˌʃel] / US [ˈtɔrtəsˌʃel] noun Word forms tortoiseshell : singular tortoiseshell plural tortoiseshells 1) [uncountable] the hard shell of a type of turtle that is brown and orange and is used for making things, for example jewellery… …   English dictionary

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