from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun One of the small squares of stone or glass used in making mosaic patterns.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In zoology, a small, squarish plate of bone such as those forming the carapace of armadillos and glyptodons.
  • noun A small piece of hard material, generally square in plan, used in combination with others of similar character for making mosaics. Tesseræ are small in surface, and are thick in proportion, and therein differ from tiles, which are large and flat.
  • noun A die for playing fames of chance.
  • noun A small square of bone, wood, or the like used in ancient Rome as a ticket of admission to the theater, etc.
  • noun Same as tessera hospitalis (which see, below).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A small piece of marble, glass, earthenware, or the like, having a square, or nearly square, face, used by the ancients for mosaic, as for making pavements, for ornamenting walls, and like purposes; also, a similar piece of ivory, bone, wood, etc., used as a ticket of admission to theaters, or as a certificate for successful gladiators, and as a token for various other purposes.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A small square piece of stone, wood, ivory or glass used for making a mosaic.
  • noun planetology complex-ridged surface feature seen on plateau highlands of Venus and perhaps on Triton

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a small square tile of stone or glass used in making mosaics


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin, from Greek, neuter of tesseres, variant of tessares, four; see kwetwer- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin tessera ("a cube, a die with numbers on all six sides"), from Ancient Greek τέσσαρες (téssares, "four").


  • Maximus Taurinus says: "The tessera is a symbol and sign by which to distinguish between the Faithful and the Profane."

    Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry

  • I just noticed your blog has a subtitle "Tessera are the small pieces that make up a mosaic" which first rang a bell and immediately afterwards set off my grammar nazi alarm bell, as I remembered that 'tessera' is a singular and the plural would be 'tesserae'.

    Sexual Abuse of Women in the Church

  • The constant practice of the churches in former ages, in all their meetings for advice and counsel, to consent unto some form of wholesome words, that might be a discriminating "tessera" [symbol] of their communion in doctrine, being used in prime antiquity, -- as is manifest in that ancient symbol commonly esteemed apostolical (of the chief heads whereof mention in the like summary is made in the very first writers among them), -- having also warrant from the word of God, and being of singular use to hold out unto all other churches of the world our apprehensions of the mind of God in the chief heads of religion, may be considered.

    The Sermons of John Owen

  • This quaint term refers to the growth of crystals, which occurs by the buildup of unit blocks, or “tessera.”


  • Some Ultra groups are promising further trouble following the introduction of the tessera del tifoso – an ID card without which fans will not be allowed to attend away games.

    Serie A 2010-11 season preview

  • Perhaps it was the absence of a real crowd – just 18,600 made it into the stadium as Ultras staged a protest against the tessera del tifoso outside – but the Giallorossi lacked energy and invention against a spirited but limited opponent.

    Ghost goals, grand unveilings and a sacking before the season even begins

  • Figure 2: Cipollino verde tessera of the mosaic floor of Frigidarium I

    Stone Studies « Interactive Dig Sagalassos – City in the Clouds

  • Inoltre, a suggellare il mio arrivo nel vero mondo lavorativo, ho una tessera magnetica con su la mia faccia, che devo sempre avere con me e passare vicino alla porta ogni volta che entro ed esco.

    Archive 2008-11-01

  • Inoltre, a suggellare il mio arrivo nel vero mondo lavorativo, ho una tessera magnetica con su la mia faccia, che devo sempre avere con me e passare vicino alla porta ogni volta che entro ed esco.

    A working woman

  • Each tessera in these borderlines was labelled with a number written directly on the paraloid skin and a corresponding one on the 1: 1 drawing.

    Interactive Dig Sagalassos - Restoration Report 8


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  • Excuse me for getting into this here, but I notice the feedback tab is gone. My problem is spelling. I like your new "looking for this?" prompt. With tessera, for instance, the word I encountered was "teserae" which is of course a latin plural, though that didn't occur to me at first. In the past, I have looked for plurals or words with suffixes and had to either go to other sites or puzzle out the root word before finding it in wordnik. But a larger problem is that spelling, not being an exact science, can vary with sources. British and American spellings differ sometimes and sometimes authors either use a non-standard spelling the learned somewhere along the way or mis-remember a spelling. In the past I've had to go elsewhere to figure out these discrepancies. I hope your new prompt solves this. Wordnik is a great site--I'm using it more and more.

    July 7, 2009