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tessellate

[ verb tes-uh-leyt; adjective tes-uh-lit, -leyt ]
/ verb 藞t蓻s 蓹藢le瑟t; adjective 藞t蓻s 蓹 l瑟t, -藢le瑟t /
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verb (used with object), tes路sel路lat路ed, tes路sel路lat路ing.
to form of small squares or blocks, as floors or pavements; form or arrange in a checkered or mosaic pattern.
adjective
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Also tes路se路late .

Origin of tessellate

First recorded in 1785鈥95; from Latin tessell膩tus 鈥渕osaic,鈥 equivalent to tessell(a) 鈥渟mall square stone or cube鈥 (diminutive of tessera + -膩tus; see origin at tessera,-ate1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 漏 Random House, Inc. 2021

VOCAB BUILDER

What does聽tessellate mean?

To tessellate is to form a pattern of shapes that fit together perfectly, without any gaps.

The resulting pattern can be called a tessellation. Such a pattern can be described as tessellated. This often often refers to a pattern that includes a repetition of one particular shape, such as the repetition of squares in a checkerboard. But tessellations can also be formed from multiple shapes. For example, a classic black-and-white soccer ball is an example of a tessellation that consists of two different shapes: hexagons and pentagons.

Tesselate can be used in the sense of someone doing the tessellating (as in I tessellated these squares to form a checkerboard) or things tessellating by themselves (as in The shapes tessellate to form a pattern.)

A tessellation is a kind of mosaic. They鈥檙e often seen on surfaces that have been covered in tiles. That鈥檚 because floor and wall tiles are often designed so that they can tessellate鈥攆it together perfectly, without any overlap or gaps.

Less commonly, tessellate can be used as an adjective meaning the same thing as a tessellated. Tessellate is sometimes spelled with one l, as tesselate.

yellow and orange honeycomb pattern

Source: Getty. These hexagons have been tessellated to form a tessellation.

Example: Hexagons were tessellated together to form a honeycomb pattern on the side of the building.

Where does聽tessellate come from?

The first records of the word tessellate come from the late 1700s. It ultimately comes from the Latin word tessell膩tus, which means 鈥渕osaic鈥 and is related to the Latin tessell(a), meaning 鈥渁 small square stone or cube.鈥

A pattern consisting entirely of squares is probably the most basic kind of tessellation. But multiple shapes can be tessellated to form a pattern that perfectly fits together. Many traditional quilts are formed by tessellating multiple kinds of shapes. Tessellations can even be found in nature, such as in the patterns on the skin or fur of certain animals or the shapes that form in dried mud. The artist M. C. Escher is known for creating intricate patterns by tessellating irregular images, such as birds and fish.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to tessellate?

What are some synonyms for tessellate?

  • tile (when tile is used as a verb)

What are some words that share a root or word element with tessellate?聽

What are some words that often get used in discussing tessellate?

How is聽tessellate used in real life?

Tessellate is a somewhat technical term. Tessellations can be found in all kinds of artwork, such as tilework and quilts, but they can also occur naturally.

 

 

Try using聽tessellate!

Is tessellate used correctly in the following sentence?

The artist tessellated the images to create a continuous pattern with no end and no beginning.

How to use tessellate in a sentence

  • The bright mosaic, that with storied beauty, the floor of nature's temple tessellate.

    Pearls of Thought|Maturin M. Ballou

British Dictionary definitions for tessellate

tessellate
/ (藞t蓻s瑟藢le瑟t) /

verb
(tr) to construct, pave, or inlay with a mosaic of small tiles
(intr) (of identical shapes) to fit together exactlytriangles will tessellate but octagons will not

Word Origin for tessellate

C18: from Latin tessell膩tus checked, from tessella small stone cube, from tessera
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition 漏 William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 漏 HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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