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pearl

pearl in figurative use, a precious, noble, or fine thing, the finest or best member or part. There is also a tradition that pearls may portend tears; they were supposed to be unlucky for brides, and in Webster's Duchess of Malfi (c.1623), the doomed Duchess dreams that the diamonds in her coronet are changed to pearls.

In heraldry, pearl is used for the tincture argent in the fanciful blazon of arms of peers.

Recorded from late Middle English, the word comes from Old French perle, perhaps based on Latin perna ‘leg’, extended to denote a leg-of-mutton shaped bivalve.
do not throw pearls to swine proverbial saying, mid 14th century, meaning that you should not offer something of value to someone unable to appreciate it. Originally with biblical allusion to Matthew 7:6, ‘Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet.’
Pearl Harbor a harbour on the island of Oahu, in Hawaii, the site of a major American naval base, where a surprise attack on 7 December 1941 by Japanese carrier-borne aircraft inflicted heavy damage and brought the US into the Second World War. The name may now be used allusively for a sudden and disastrous attack, mounted without warning.
Pearl Mosque a white marble mosque at Agra in Uttar Pradesh, northern India, built in the 17th century by the emperor Akbar (1542–1605).

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Pearl, The

The Pearl, one of four Middle English alliterative poems, all contained in a manuscript of c.1400, composed in the West Midland dialect, almost certainly by the same anonymous author, who flourished c.1370–1390. The Pearl is usually explained as an elegy for the poet's young daughter; in an allegorical vision of singular beauty he sees her as a maiden in paradise and becomes reconciled to her death. The second and third poems, Cleanness (or Purity) and Patience, are homiletic poems on those virtues. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the fourth poem, which relates a fabulous adventure of Gawain, is perhaps the most brilliantly conceived of all Arthurian romances. If single authorship is accepted, the artistry displayed in this poem and in The Pearl make the so-called Pearl-poet in some respects a rival to Chaucer. A fifth poem, St. Erkenwald, is attributed by some authorities to the same anonymous author.

For translations of the first, fourth, and fifth poems and for bibliography, see R. S. Loomis and R. Willard, ed., Medieval English Verse and Prose (1948); studies by I. Bishop (1968) and A. C. Spearing (1976).

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Pearl (river, China)

Pearl, Chin. Zhujiang, river, 110 mi (177 km) long, S Guangdong prov., S China. Formed at Guangzhou by the confluence of the Xi and Bei rivers, it flows E then S past Guangzhou and Huangpu island to form a large estuary between Hong Kong and Macao. The river links Guangzhou to Hong Kong and the South China Sea and is one of China's most important waterways and one of the centers of its world trade. It is vitally important to the special economic zones that lie along its estuary. The estuary, called Boca Tigris, is kept open for ocean vessels by dredging.

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Pearl (river, United States)

Pearl, river, 485 mi (781 km) long, rising in E Miss. and flowing S to Lake Borgne, an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico; its lower section (116 mi/187 km) forms the Miss.-La. boundary. Above Jackson, Miss., the Pearl's largest city, is Ross Barnett Reservoir, one of the state's chief water-storage areas.

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pearl

pearl XIV. ME. perle — (O)F., prob. — It. perla, repr. L. perna leg, ham, leg-of-mutton shaped bivalve.
Hence pearled (-ED2) XIV, pearly (-Y1) XV.

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Pearl

Pearl a city in central Mississippi, just east of Jackson; pop. 21,961.

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pearl

pearlbirl, burl, churl, curl, earl, Erle, furl, girl, herl, hurl, knurl, merle, pas seul, pearl, purl, Searle, skirl, squirl, swirl, twirl, whirl, whorl •salesgirl •ballgirl, call girl •cowgirl • showgirl • schoolgirl •choirgirl • weathergirl • Husserl

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