Dictionary.com Word FAQs
What is the word history of mosaic?
This word came through French and is based on Latin musaeum, museum, musi(v)um 'decoration with small square stones'. These Latin words may derive from the ancient Greek meaning 'place holy to the Muses' and the decorations may originally have been dedicated to the Muses. Ultimately, the etymology before the Latin is unknown as there also has been evidence of those words being derived from oriental languages. Unlike inlay, in which the pieces to be applied are set into a surface that has been hollowed out to receive the design, mosaic pieces are applied on a surface that has been prepared with an adhesive. In antiquity, mosaics were first made of uncut pebbles of uniform size. The Greeks, who elevated the pebble mosaic to a refined art, also invented the tessera technique. Tesserae (Latin for 'cubes' or 'dice') are pieces that have been cut into triangular, square, or other regular shapes so that they will fit closely into the grid of cubes that make up the mosaic surface. Another form of the word - Mosaic - means 'of Moses or the laws attributed to him in the Bible'.