noun, plural tes·ser·ae [tes-uh-ree] /ˈtɛs əˌri/.

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
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British Dictionary definitions for tessera


noun plural -serae (-səˌriː)

a small square tile of stone, glass, etc, used in mosaics
a die, tally, etc, used in classical times, made of bone or wood
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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper