• synonyms


noun, plural tes·ser·ae [tes-uh-ree] /ˈtɛs əˌri/.
  1. one of the small pieces used in mosaic work.
  2. a small square of bone, wood, or the like, used in ancient times as a token, tally, ticket, etc.
Show More

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

Historical Examples of tessera

  • But disappointment was in waiting,—the overseer would not give the tessera.

    Quo Vadis

    Henryk Sienkiewicz

  • 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.

  • 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

    W.H. Hudson

British Dictionary definitions for tessera


noun plural -serae (-səˌriː)
  1. a small square tile of stone, glass, etc, used in mosaics
  2. a die, tally, etc, used in classical times, made of bone or wood
Show More
Derived Formstesseral, adjective

Word Origin for tessera

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 tessera


plural tesserae, 1650s, from Latin tessera, from Ionic Greek tesseres (Attic tessares) "four" (see four).

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper