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[pawr-suh-lin, pohr-; pawrs-lin, pohrs-] /ˈpɔr sə lɪn, ˈpoʊr-; ˈpɔrs lɪn, ˈpoʊrs-/
a strong, vitreous, translucent ceramic material, biscuit-fired at a low temperature, the glaze then fired at a very high temperature.
ware made from this.
1520-30; < French porcelaine < Italian porcellana orig., a type of cowry shell, apparently likened to the vulva of a sow, noun use of feminine of porcellano of a young sow, equivalent to porcell(a), diminutive of porca sow (see pork, -elle) + -ano -an
Related forms
porcelaneous, porcellaneous
[pawr-suh-ley-nee-uh s, pohr-] /ˌpɔr səˈleɪ ni əs, ˌpoʊr-/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for porcelain
  • porcelain has now been distributed around several departments which, between them, manage only about a dozen sales a year.
  • Pottery, porcelain and the casting cores of bronzes can be dated by the amount of radiation the piece absorbs.
  • Experts in rare coins, porcelain and other arcane areas have been laid off or turned into consultants.
  • One colonist brought a set of porcelain cups, another a miniature windmill for diversion.
  • So insignificant was the porcelain pissoir at the time that no one can remember exactly what happened to it.
  • Or that a gardener's cottage, charming though it may be, would seem as precious as plover's eggs in a porcelain.
  • Fragrant, porcelain pink petals blended with yellow.
  • Put in a granite or porcelain-lined preserving kettle, and add cold water to come nearly to top of apples.
  • He went through the kitchen into the adjoining washroom, which held two porcelain stands with running water.
  • porcelain rollers, with rough surfaces, are sometimes employed.
British Dictionary definitions for porcelain


/ˈpɔːslɪn; -leɪn; ˈpɔːsə-/
a more or less translucent ceramic material, the principal ingredients being kaolin and petuntse (hard paste) or other clays, ground glassy substances, soapstone, bone ash, etc
an object made of this or such objects collectively
(modifier) of, relating to, or made from this material a porcelain cup
Derived Forms
porcellaneous (ˌpɔːsəˈleɪnɪəs) adjective
Word Origin
C16: from French porcelaine, from Italian porcellana cowrie shell, porcelain (from its shell-like finish), literally: relating to a sow (from the resemblance between a cowrie shell and a sow's vulva), from porcella little sow, from porca sow, from Latin; see pork
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for porcelain
c.1530, from M.Fr. porcelaine, from It. porcellana "porcelain" (13c.), lit. "cowrie shell," the chinaware so called from resemblance to the shiny surface of the shells. The shell's name in It. is from porcella "young sow," fem. of L. porcellus "young pig," dim. of porculus "piglet," dim. of porcus "pig." Supposedly the shells were so called because the shape of the orifice reminded someone of the vaginas of pigs.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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