1 [mass noun] The semi-transparent mottled yellow and brown shell of certain turtles, typically used to make jewellery or ornaments.
- These included shell, coral, tortoiseshell, lava, jet, ivory, and paste.
- It was a strange coloured little creature, speckled brown like tortoiseshell.
- Originals or copies of Greek statues, objects of gold or silver, ivory or tortoiseshell, intaglios, cameos, and vases of precious stone accumulated in Roman palaces and villas, and statuary adorned their gardens.
1.1A synthetic substance made to imitate tortoiseshell.
- He brushed a fringe of fine, mousy hair from his face and pushed his imitation tortoiseshell glasses up his narrow nose.
- I also noticed that my glasses, once tortoiseshell and chic, had become wire frame and sort of angular.
- You just pay a lot of money,’ he tells me, polishing his decades-old tortoiseshell spectacles across the table linen. ‘I could put my prices up to any level and the tourists would still come.
2 short for tortoiseshell cat.
- It is just a quirk that people would rather take on coloured cats like tortoiseshells.
- One of the curlicues was a black-and-white shorthair male; one was a black shorthair female; the third was a tortoiseshell shorthair female.
- The cat could be a tabby, a tortoiseshell, maybe even a Siamese.
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