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Mosaic, opus musivum, is a kind of painting made with minute pieces of colored substances, generally either marble or natural stones, or else glass, more or less opaque, and of every variety of hue which the subject may require, set in very fine cement, and which thus form pictures of different kinds, rivaling in color and hue those painted by the brush.
In the later Latin there are the terms opus musivum "mosaic work," musivarius, "mosaic worker," but probably the English word "mosaic" is derived immediately from the French mosaique, which with its earlier form mousaique can only be borrowed from the Italian or Provençal and cannot be the descendant of the earlier French form musike.
When the inscription is properly cut into the stone, it is called a titulus or marble; if merely scratched on the stone, the Italian word graffito is used; a painted inscription is called dipinto, and a mosaic inscription — such as are found largely in North Africa, Spain, and the East — bears the name of opus musivum.
Mosaic _is so named from the tesselated pavements of the Romans, which being worked in a regular and mechanical manner, were called_ Opus musivum, opera quæ ad amussim facta sunt.