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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Iridescence \Ir`i*des"cence\, n. [See Iridescent.] Exhibition of colors like those of the rainbow, especially a surface reflection which changes color with the angle at which the object is viewed; the quality or state of being iridescent; a prismatic play of color; as, the iridescence of mother-of-pearl. It is due to interference of light waves reflected from the front and back surfaces of a thin layer transpatrent or semitransparent film.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1804, from iridescent + -ence. Related: Iridescency (1799).


n. 1 The condition or state of being iridescent; exhibition of colors like those of the rainbow; a prismatic play of color. 2 Any shimmer of glittering and changeable colors.


n. the visual property of something having a milky brightness [syn: opalescence]


Iridescence (also known as goniochromism) is the phenomenon of certain surfaces that appear to change colour as the angle of view or the angle of illumination changes. Examples of iridescence include soap bubbles, butterfly wings and sea shells, as well as certain minerals. It is often created by structural coloration (microstructures that interfere with light).

Usage examples of "iridescence".

Tim had always found himself especially attuned to the deserted charms of Candie Gardens in winter, enjoying the bare traceries of the trees and the widened harbour view, the few points of colour against the monochrome background - the red and pink of the camellias near the top gate, the hanging yellow bells of the winter-flowering abutilon with their red clappers, even the iridescence of the mallard drake circling the largest of the ponds with his speckled mate.

Behind him crouched a Grackle whose frayed and dusty plumage had lost nearly all its iridescence.

The second device was decidedly in sectile in appearance, with six jointed legs, a small head equipped with long fronds of antennae, and a squat, ovoid, bulging body that would, when polished, gleam with gorgeous iridescence.

The huge puffed sleeves were fashioned with rows of midnight blue velvet ribbon and narrow silk ruching whose iridescence changed from dark to a silverish blue.

She saw them with her overeyes, glowing moon-on-dragon-scale silver, that peculiar sheen of pure metal with the overlay of draconic iridescence, a furtive rainbow that was all colors and none at all.

Some still writhed or hummed or reflected iridescence from overhead spotlights.

Some of the effect, he was sure, was sensetwist, the strange swim and shimmer of passing students, their aura, their iridescence, but how to explain the grotesqueries of their faces and the way their proteanskins melted into motley?

Blinding sunlight, almost immediately dimmed as the viewports automatically polarized, smote through into the control room, and, outside, made haloes of iridescence in the clouds of ice particles through which the vessel was driving.

It seemed to draw to itself the light, sending it back with gleamings of the gray-blue of the star sapphire, with pellucid azures and lazulis like clouded jades, with glistening peacock iridescences and tender, milky greens of tropic shallows.

This ornamental stone exhibits a beautiful celestial blue flash of iridescence known as peristerism.

Most of the Lunarians wore ordinary garments, although their styles of it-upward-flared collars, short cloaks, dagged skirts, pectoral sunbursts, insignia of phyle or family, colors, iridescences, inset glitterlights, details more fanciful still-would have been florid were it not as natural on them as brilliance on a coral snake.

Its metallic limbs gleamed with the rainbow iridescence of a diffraction grating.

Spots of iridescence given off by organisms growing on the plant life began to shimmer softly in the enfolding darkness.

I mean, no mention of increase in the sample: however, once excised, the report said that the specimen lost all iridescence.

No, as he neared, Lockridge saw that the veil which filled it, flickering with soft iridescence, every hue his eyes could see and (he suspected) many they could not, was immaterial: a shimmer in space, a mirage, a sheet of living light.