Cowrie, or Cowry, a small marine snail, found in warm waters. It has a glossy, roughly oval shell with toothed edges. These shells, also called cowries, were formerly used as money in parts of Africa and India. British merchants used to collect huge quantities in the East Indies and use them for barter.
Handsomely colored cowrie shells are used for making ornaments and jewelry. The money cowrie, which is not especially handsome, is yellow or white and about one inch (2.5 cm) long. Cowries are found in the West Indies, along the Pacific coast of America, and in the waters of tropical Asia.
Cowries are gastropod mollusks of the genus Cypraea. The money cowrie is C. moneta.