Definition of cowrie in English:


Line breaks: cow¦rie
Pronunciation: /ˈkaʊ(ə)ri
(also cowry)

noun (plural cowries)

  • 1A marine mollusc which has a glossy, brightly patterned domed shell with a long, narrow opening.
    • Genus Cypraea, family Cypraeidae, class Gastropoda: numerous species, including the small money cowrie (C. moneta)
    More example sentences
    • We found tiny cowries on the soft corals and red spider crabs on the fans.
    • These include Vasum, some photine buccinids, and some cypraeid cowries.
    • Here butterfish can be seen feeding on mussels, and cowries are also in evidence.
  • 1.1The flattened yellowish shell of the money cowrie, formerly used as money in parts of Africa and the Indo-Pacific area.
    More example sentences
    • Jabali said, ‘I don't have a single cowrie - and even if I had I wouldn't give it.‘
    • The article explains how cowries were exchanged for slaves and how East African gold entered Indian Ocean circuits.
    • Almost all of the RAC's cowries went to the Slave Coast, with few arriving at any other destination.


mid 17th century: from Hindi kauṛī.

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