Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A tube-shaped optical instrument that is rotated to produce a succession of symmetrical designs by means of mirrors reflecting the constantly changing patterns made by bits of colored glass at one end of the tube.
  • n. A constantly changing set of colors.
  • n. A series of changing phases or events: a kaleidoscope of illusions.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A tube of mirrors containing loose coloured beads etc. that is rotated to produce a succession of symmetrical designs
  • n. A constantly changing set of colours, or other things

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An instrument invented by Sir David Brewster, which contains loose fragments of colored glass, etc., and reflecting surfaces so arranged that changes of position exhibit its contents in an endless variety of beautiful colors and symmetrical forms. It has been much employed in arts of design.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An optical instrument creating and exhibiting, by reflection, a variety of beautiful colors and symmetrical forms.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a complex pattern of constantly changing colors and shapes
  • n. an optical toy in a tube; it produces symmetrical patterns as bits of colored glass are reflected by mirrors

Etymologies

Greek kalos, beautiful + eidos, form; see weid- in Indo-European roots + -scope.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek καλός (kalos, "beautiful") + εἶδος (eidos, "shape") (compare -oid) +‎ -scope. Coined 1817, by David Brewster, its inventor. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • When in motion, a kaleidoscope is produced which would make a peacock envious.

    The Folkloric Ballet (Ballet Folklórico) of Guadalajara, Mexico

  • So far today we have examined the economic kaleidoscope from a perspective of macroeconomics - that's a buzzword favoured by economists looking at the big picture.

    Imperatives for Business Survival: Learning to Live with Less

  • It was displayed in kaleidoscope for all the world to see at those Diamond Jubilee celebrations, in which men in varied uniforms gathered from all the far corners of the seven seas to march in procession and do honour to the great Queen Empress.

    The Future of the Empire

  • Verily the French kaleidoscope is very prettily turned!

    Echoes of the Week

  • A self-described "Missoni junkie," Mr. Jones lauded the family for their designs characterized by a "kaleidoscope of bold hues, zigzags, stripes, waves, flames, geometric patchworks and floral jacquards."

    Mary Hall: The Rodeo Walk of Style Welcomes Iman and Missoni

  • Boutrous refers to a "kaleidoscope of claims, defenses, issues, locales, events and individuals" that he will tell the justices simply cannot be folded into a single class-action case.

    Women take case against Wal-Mart to highest court

  • Somewhere in the kaleidoscope is the observation that, possibly for the first time in its history, The Daily Telegraph carried less news on its front page than The Sun.

    Beware the bicycle shed

  • Whistler, or a good Japanese print, might be described as a kaleidoscope suddenly arrested and transfixed at the moment of most exquisite relations in the pieces of glass.

    The Art of the Moving Picture

  • Many other pleasing examples could be cited if further turnings of the kaleidoscope were a real need, but this slender discourse is as long now as it should be.

    The Amateur Garden

  • A kaleidoscope is the tool that helps make sense of the mess.

    Life is so... whatever.

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