- 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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for tesserae
And the tesserae do not fall out like those you bought on the Rialto.Creative Chemistry
Edwin E. Slosson
The floors of Roman buildings were paved with tiny blocks of brick called 'tesserae', three to four inches long and one inch wide.Cheshire
Charles E. Kelsey
The attention of archaeologists has been recently directed to the tesserae of gladiators.
And the earlier its date the more surely was it a mosaic, not in the form of tesserae, but in the manner known as “opus sectile.”
Tesserae, shaped and marked with pips like modern dice, were evolved from the tali, knuckle-bones with only four flat sides.
- a small square tile of stone, glass, etc, used in mosaics
- a die, tally, etc, used in classical times, made of bone or wood
C17: from Latin, from Ionic Greek tesseres four
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
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