- 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.
- a synthetic substance made in imitation of this
- a mottled, yellow-and-brown color pattern
- any of several common, black and yellow-brown butterflies (genus Nymphalis) with markings resembling those of tortoise shell
- a cat with a mottled coat of black, brown, red or yellow, white, etc.
See tortoiseshell in American Heritage Dictionary 4
also tor·toise-shell or tor·toise shell noun
a. The mottled, horny, translucent, brownish covering of the carapace of certain tortoises or turtles, especially the hawksbill, used to make combs, jewelry, and other articles.
b. A synthetic imitation of natural tortoiseshell.
- See hawksbill.
- A domestic cat having fur with brown, black, and yellowish markings.
- Any of several butterflies, chiefly of the genus Nymphalis, having wings with orange, black, and brown markings.
- torˈtoise·shellˌ adjective
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