- 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 tessera
But disappointment was in waiting,—the overseer would not give the tessera.Quo Vadis
But woe to the person who gives his tessera to a careless concierge!Vistas in Sicily
Arthur Stanley Riggs
"We'll exchange the tessera hospitalis on it," exclaimed Paulus.
Ludus sit talis, tessera, saccho (ut nostra appellatione utur), carthis variis imaginibus pictis.Facts and Speculations on the Origin and History of Playing Cards
William Andrew Chatto
The very earth within those walls had a reddish cast owing to the innumerable fragments of red tile and tessera mixed with it.Afoot in England
- 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
Word Origin and History for tessera
plural tesserae, 1650s, from Latin tessera, from Ionic Greek tesseres (Attic tessares) "four" (see four).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper