Definition of oyster in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɔɪstə/


1Any of a number of bivalve molluscs with rough irregular shells. Several kinds are eaten (especially raw) as a delicacy and may be farmed for food or pearls:
  • A true oyster (family Ostreidae), in particular the edible common European oyster (Ostrea edulis) and American oyster (Crassostrea virginica). [with modifier] A similar bivalve of another family, in particular the thorny oysters (Spondylidae), wing oysters (Pteriidae), and saddle oysters (Anomiidae)..
Example sentences
  • Loch Fyne is Scotland's longest and deepest sea loch, and at its head, the Loch Fyne Oysters company farms oysters and mussels for consumption in its own restaurants as well as in many others in Britain.
  • They discovered that small beads could be carved out of the shells of freshwater mussels and inserted into oysters to artificially form pearls.
  • Bivalves like oysters, mussels and scallops are particularly prone to contamination because of the way they feed.
2 (also oyster white) [mass noun] A shade of greyish white.
Example sentences
  • If you don't want to go beyond white, update your color with tone-on-tone neutrals like ecru, oyster, almond or biscuit.
  • While Tisci focused on black and oyster, Lacroix used a vast array of colors and along with the rich details of beads, laces, corsets, flounces and satin.
  • Suit colours for the summer include stone, muted grey, cream and oyster.
3An oyster-shaped morsel of meat on each side of the backbone in poultry.
Example sentences
  • Turn the chicken and cut from the tail to the head to remove the leg from the carcass and pop out the oyster.
  • Tip the bird over slightly, and with the point of the knife remove the oyster and the small dark portion found on the side-bone.


[no object] (usually as noun oystering)
Raise, dredge, or gather oysters: oystering is still the lifeblood of this town
More example sentences
  • At the same time, the traditional industries of fishing, oystering and lobstering declined drastically as marine wildlife disappeared from the harbor.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum on the edge of town had boats on dry land which the kids could climb in, a lighthouse to climb up, fishing nets to climb over, and, inevitably, a history of oystering.
  • Gulf shrimping and inshore oystering are the only remaining marine commercial fisheries in Texas not under a limited entry program.


the world is your oyster

You are in a position to take the opportunities that life has to offer: I can do anything I want to, the world’s my oyster
From Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor ( ii. ii. 5)
More example sentences
  • ‘When you're young, you think the world is your oyster,’ says Grand-Maitre, looking back.
  • Then, who knows where the night will take you… maybe Beach Street, or the Bahama Hut… the world is your oyster!
  • Well, becoming a medic or vet might be a push, but otherwise, as I've mentioned before, the world is your oyster.


Middle English: from Old French oistre, via Latin from Greek ostreon; related to osteon 'bone' and ostrakon 'shell or tile'.

  • This goes back ultimately to Greek ostreon, which was related to ostrakon ‘shell or tile’ and is linked to ostracize. The possibility that on opening an oyster you might find a pearl has given us an expression that goes back to Shakespeare. In The Merry Wives of Windsor the boastful Pistol brags to Falstaff, ‘Why then, the world's mine oyster, which I with sword will open.’

Words that rhyme with oyster

cloister, hoister, roister

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: oys¦ter

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