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[tes-er-uh] /ˈtɛs ər ə/
noun, plural tesserae
[tes-uh-ree] /ˈtɛs əˌri/ (Show IPA)
one of the small pieces used in mosaic work.
a small square of bone, wood, or the like, used in ancient times as a token, tally, ticket, etc.
Origin of tessera
1640-50; < Latin < Greek (Ionic) tésseres four Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for tesserae
  • Artisans and archaeologists worked with literally millions of tesserae, or tiles, to restore the dazzling mosaics.
  • tesserae of rust, gold, and blue form three large symbolic rondels on j the mosaic floor.
British Dictionary definitions for tesserae


noun (pl) -serae (-səˌriː)
a small square tile of stone, glass, etc, used in mosaics
a die, tally, etc, used in classical times, made of bone or wood
Derived Forms
tesseral, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin, from Ionic Greek tesseres four
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for tesserae



plural tesserae, 1650s, from Latin tessera, from Ionic Greek tesseres (Attic tessares) "four" (see four).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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