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Pearls. (1)



From Old French perle, from Medieval Latin perla. The surfing sense is from “pearl diving”, it being imagined the surfer is diving down for pearls.


pearl (plural pearls)

  1. A shelly concretion, usually rounded, and having a brilliant luster, with varying tints, found in the mantle, or between the mantle and shell, of certain bivalve mollusks, especially in the pearl oysters and river mussels, and sometimes in certain univalves. It is usually due to a secretion of shelly substance around some irritating foreign particle. Its substance is the same as nacre, or mother-of-pearl. Round lustrous pearls are used in jewellery.
  2. (figuratively) Something precious.
    • Shakespeare
      I see thee compassed with thy kingdom's pearl.
    • 1920, Herman Cyril McNeile, Bulldog Drummond Chapter 1
      Hugh helped himself to bacon. "My dear fellow, she can think what she likes so long as she continues to grill bacon like this. Your wife is a treasure, James—a pearl amongst women; and you can tell her so with my love."
  3. A capsule of gelatin or similar substance containing liquid for e.g. medicinal application.
  4. Nacre, or mother-of-pearl.
  5. A whitish speck or film on the eye.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Milton to this entry?)
  6. A fish allied to the turbot; the brill.
  7. A light-colored tern.
  8. One of the circle of tubercles which form the bur on a deer's antler.
  9. (typography) Five-point size of type, between agate and diamond.
  10. A fringe or border.



pearl (third-person singular simple present pearls, present participle pearling, simple past and past participle pearled)

  1. To set or adorn with pearls, or with mother-of-pearl. Used also figuratively.
  2. To cause to resemble pearls; to make into small round grains; as, to pearl barley.
  3. To resemble pearl or pearls.
  4. To give or hunt for pearls; as, to go pearling.
  5. (surfing) to dig the nose of one's surfboard into the water, often on takeoff.
    • 1999, Joanne VanMeter [1]:
      Used a pointed tip today and learned why I kept pearling with my round tipped board. Round noses like to dig into the water, causing frustrating wipeouts.

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