or tes·se·la·tion

[ tes-uh-ley-shuhn ]
/ ˌtɛs əˈleɪ ʃən /
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the art or practice of tessellating.
tessellated form or arrangement.
tessellated work.


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Origin of tessellation

1650–60; tessellate (verb) + -ion

Words nearby tessellation

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does tessellation mean?

A tessellation is a pattern of shapes that fit together perfectly, without any gaps.

Tessellation 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 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.

A tessellation is a kind of mosaic. They’re often seen on surfaces that have been covered in tiles. Because floor and wall tiles are often designed to fit together perfectly, without any overlap or gaps, the resulting pattern is often a tessellation.

The word tessellation can also refer to the act of tessellating—forming such a pattern. Such a pattern can be described as tessellated.

Tessellation is sometimes spelled with one l, as tesselation.

yellow and orange honeycomb pattern

Source: Getty. An example of a tessellation formed from hexagons.

Example: The building was designed to look like a tessellation in the form of a honeycomb pattern.

Where does tessellation come from?

The first records of the word tessellation come from the 1650s. It ultimately comes from the Latin word tessellātus, which means “mosaic” and is related to the Latin tessell(a), meaning “a small square stone or cube.”

A pattern consisting entirely of squares is probably the most basic kind of tessellation. Some tessellations require more than one kind of shape to fit together perfectly. Many traditional quilts feature tessellations that consist of 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 tessellations from irregular images, such as birds and fish.

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What are some other forms related to tessellation?

  • tesselation (alternate spelling)
  • tessellate (verb, adjective)

What are some synonyms for tessellation?

What are some words that share a root or word element with tessellation

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

How is tessellation used in real life?

Tessellation is a somewhat technical term for a mosaic or repeating pattern of shapes. Tessellations can be found in all kinds of artwork, such as tilework and quilts, but they can also occur naturally.




Try using tessellation!

Is tessellation used correctly in the following sentence?

The artist’s tessellation of the images creates a continuous pattern with no end and no beginning.

How to use tessellation in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for tessellation

/ (ˌtɛsɪˈleɪʃən) /

the act of tessellating
the form or a specimen of tessellated work
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