Definition of tessera in English:


Line breaks: tes|sera
Pronunciation: /ˈtɛs(ə)rə

noun (plural tesserae /-riː/)

  • 1A small block of stone, tile, glass, or other material used in the construction of a mosaic: Roman remains including tesserae have been found
    More example sentences
    • Glass was preferred because of its light-catching properties; the effect of glass tesserae in a mosaic is to create brilliance and richness through the changing effect of the refraction of light.
    • The thinly painted, diaphanous rectangles, which achieve greater density of color where they overlap, function as simulacra of brushmarks or as tesserae in a mosaic.
    • Mosaics can be made from any of a number of materials, from the traditional tessera and glass, to mundane materials such as stones and beads, to the unexpected bottle caps, nuts and bolts, and industrial cast-offs.
  • 1.1(In ancient Greece and Rome) a small tablet of wood or bone used as a token.
    More example sentences
    • For centuries historians believed the tesserae had been worn by gladiators on a chain or cord around their necks.
    • The tessera was recovered from the Ninfeo of Punta Epitaffio during the underwater excavation in the sea in front of Baia, which nowadays is a little town near Naples.
    • Every corn-receiver was therefore now provided with a tessera, and this tessera, when once granted to him, became his property.



More example sentences
  • This material is made of VITREOUS clay in tesseral pieces representing the tessera; of the Roman mosaics.
  • It has the same tesseral texture as the ceramic floor-tiles and is readily applied to wainscots and mantel-work.


mid 17th century: via Latin from Greek, neuter of tesseres, variant of tessares 'four'.

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