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terra cotta

[kot-uh] /ˈkɒt ə/
a hard, fired clay, brownish-red in color when unglazed, that is used for architectural ornaments and facings, structural units, pottery, and as a material for sculpture.
something made of terra cotta.
a brownish-orange color like that of unglazed terra cotta.
Origin of terra cotta
1715-25; < Italian: literally, baked earth < Latin terra cōcta


[ter-uh-kot-uh] /ˈtɛr əˈkɒt ə/
made of or having the color of terra cotta.
1865-70 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for terra cotta
  • The upscale setting features wrought iron chandeliers, distressed terra cotta walls, white linens and a fireplace.
  • The casual setting features terra cotta--style walls, simple wood furnishings and a sampling of beer and wine.
  • The setting features high ceilings, palm trees, bamboo chairs and distressed terra cotta walls.
  • The cream-colored setting includes distressed terra cotta walls, hanging plants, white tablecloths and chandeliers.
  • The rustic decor highlights distressed terra cotta walls, creaky hardwood floors and upstairs dining.
  • The restaurant features cherry-wood furnishings, terra cotta-style walls, white tablecloths and sidewalk dining.
  • The church features a terra cotta tile roof, which replaced an earlier stone roof.
  • The two dining rooms include terra cotta walls, exposed brick, white tablecloths and wine cask-lined walls.
  • Each of the bays is terminated by a segmental arch that corresponds with elaborate terra cotta ornament.
  • It is distinguished by the quality of its terra cotta and marble detailing, and by its well-proportioned composition.
Word Origin and History for terra cotta



1722, from Italian terra cotta, literally "cooked earth," from terra "earth" (see terrain) + cotta "baked," from Latin cocta, fem. past participle of coquere (see cook (n.)). As a color name for brownish-red, attested from 1882.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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