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Word of the Day – Wednesday, August 14th

 


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NACRE (NAY-kuhr)

A pearly substance which lines the interior of many shells
Common clue: Mother-of-pearl; Button stuff; Mollusk’s secretion; Bead material; Inlay material; Abalone product; Iridescent shell layer; Shell's pearly layer
Crossword puzzle frequency: 2 times a year


Nacre, also known as mother of pearl, is an organic mixture of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the form of platy crystals of aragonite and conchiolin (a scleroprotein).



A piece of nacre.


Nacre is secreted by the ectodermic cells of the mantle tissue of certain species of mollusk. In these mollusks, nacre is continually deposited onto the inner surface of the animal's shell (the iridescent nacreous layer, commonly known as mother of pearl), both as a means to smooth the shell itself and as a defense against parasitic organisms and damaging detritus.


The iridescent inner layer is considered highly attractive by many cultures and is often used in making jewelry or as inlays in wood furniture and guitars.


When a mollusk is invaded by a parasite or is irritated by a foreign object that the animal cannot eject, a process known as encystation entombs the offending entity in successive, concentric layers of nacre. This process eventually forms what we call pearls and continues for as long as the mollusk lives.


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Nacre".