mo·​sa·​ic | \ mō-ˈzā-ik \

Definition of mosaic 

(Entry 1 of 4)

1 : a surface decoration made by inlaying small pieces of variously colored material to form pictures or patterns also : the process of making it
2 : a picture or design made in mosaic
3 : something resembling a mosaic a mosaic of visions and daydreams and memories— Lawrence Shainberg
4 : an organism or one of its parts composed of cells of more than one genotype : chimera sense 3
5 : any of numerous virus diseases of plants characterized by diffuse light and dark green or yellow and green mottling of the foliage — compare tobacco mosaic virus
6 : a composite map made of photographs taken by an aircraft or spacecraft
7 : the part of a television camera tube consisting of many minute photoelectric particles that convert light to an electric charge


adjective (1)

Definition of mosaic (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : of, relating to, produced by, or resembling a mosaic
2 : exhibiting mosaicism


mosaicked; mosaicking

Definition of mosaic (Entry 3 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to decorate with mosaics
2 : to form into a mosaic


adjective (2)
Mo·​sa·​ic | \ mō-ˈzā-ik \

Definition of Mosaic (Entry 4 of 4)

: of or relating to Moses or the institutions or writings attributed to him lived under the Mosaic Law

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Other Words from mosaic


mosaiclike \ mō-​ˈzā-​ik-​ˌlīk \ adjective

Adjective (1)

mosaically \ mō-​ˈzā-​ə-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Examples of mosaic in a Sentence


a church decorated with old mosaics a picture done in mosaic

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But that's just one part of Mohonk's mosaic, and certainly not its norm. Jesse Oxfeld, Town & Country, "Take a Step Back in Time at the Hudson Valley's Mohonk Mountain House," 21 Oct. 2016 During her stay in Pyongyang, Kim Jong Il took Albright to one of the mass games spectacles that included a giant mosaic displaying a rocket flying into the sky. Hyung-jin Kim, USA TODAY, "Top North Korean official may be headed to the U.S. to discuss summit between Kim Jong Un, Trump," 29 May 2018 An incredible 1,700-year-old ancient mosaic has been uncovered by archaeologists in Israel. James Rogers, Fox News, "Exquisite ancient mosaic uncovered in Israel," 31 July 2018 Celebrations commenced stateside and a mosaic of glitter filled streets across the U.S. in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Ivana Rihter, Vogue, "How 4 Next-Gen Makeup Lines Are Serving the Transgender Community," 30 July 2018 Survivors and the bereaved observed the silence at the foot of Grenfell Tower, where a new mosaic was unveiled. Karla Adam,, "Remembering the Grenfell fire, iconic landmarks glow green," 14 June 2018 The desire to preserve these mosaics makes it all the more difficult to access the tomb and archaeologists will have to carefully remove each tile individually in order to begin excavation. Chanel Vargas, Town & Country, "Santa Claus's Tomb May Have Just Been Discovered Under a Church in Turkey," 4 Oct. 2017 The flooring will be a mosaic made out of five different types of Italian marble. Kristen Bateman, Harper's BAZAAR, "Maison Ladurée's New Soho Home," 4 Feb. 2014 This also allowed him to build his own grand palace complex with walls of inlaid glass and intricate mosaics. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Medieval artisans built a glass-walled palace in the desert," 31 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Cushions are scattered on soft seating and plain white and wooden tables have been replaced with attractive mosaic ones. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Tells the Women of the Hubb Community Kitchen She's So "Happy" to Be Pregnant," 21 Nov. 2018 The mosaic-like palette combines a dozen flattering hues; then sweep it over your makeup as a light-catching, lustrous finale. Hannah Morrill, Marie Claire, "These Are the Exact Products You Need for the Glowiest Skin of Your Life," 30 June 2016 Much of the money -- $155,467-- would go for the Encinitas Boulevard project, which consists of a 3-foot-wide decorative ribbon of mosaic work running along the walls approaching the underpass. Barbara Henry,, "Encinitas agrees to continue funding for temporary restrooms," 18 June 2018 On view overall are silver statuettes, platters, offering bowls, drinking cups, cameos, jewelry and even a sumptuous mosaic fragment from Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli. Melik Kaylan, WSJ, "‘Devotion and Decadence: The Berthouville Treasure and Roman Luxury From the Bibliothèque Nationale de France’ Review: Shining Silver From an Untarnished Trove," 31 Oct. 2018 In the master suite, there’s a walk-in closet and a rain shower with a floral design on mosaic tile. Jack Flemming, The Seattle Times, "Flashy Miami penthouse from ‘War Dogs’ aims for $4.5 million," 22 Oct. 2018 Ashkin kept experimenting with trapping ever-smaller particles with his optical tweezers, including samples of mosaic virus. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "2018 physics Nobel Prize honors 3, including first woman in 55 years," 2 Oct. 2018 Chivers throws mosaic pieces at his readers and forces them to examine the shapes to attempt some kind of construction that makes sense. Matt Young, Popular Mechanics, "In 'The Fighters,' A Pulitzer Prize–Winning War Reporter Strips Iraq and Afghanistan to the Bone," 9 Aug. 2018 The Azulik Honeymoon Villa is three stories high, with two private decks, an outdoor plunge pool, a Balinese bed and a shower (the only villa with a shower; the rest have mosaic tile bathtubs). Mark Rogers, USA TODAY, "Honeymoon guide: Romantic resorts on Mexico’s Caribbean coast," 5 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Fifteen thousand dollars' worth of oil paintings of the owner and his family hung on the walls, and mosaic inlaid tile covered the floor from front to back. Charles J. Johnson,, "The short, sad story of Cafe de Champion — Jack Johnson's mixed-race nightclub on Chicago's South Side," 25 May 2018 The park’s most famous feature is the Life of Christ mosaic. Vincent Crampton,, "Explore Florida's Orange County: Woodlawn Memorial Park’s happy little plot," 6 May 2018 Woodlawn Memorial Park east of Orlando is home to the Life of Christ mosaic, but also home to one of the most famous artists of all time. Vincent Crampton,, "Explore Florida's Orange County: Woodlawn Memorial Park’s happy little plot," 6 May 2018 After years of excavating, archaeologists in Cyprus have uncovered a rare, Roman-era floor mosaic almost 2,000 years old. Casey Smith, National Geographic, "This Ancient Mosaic Depicts a Thrilling Chariot Race," 3 Aug. 2017 A team of installers with Barsanti Marble Bronze Mosaic, 4th generation artisans from Pietrasanta, Italy began replacing the iconic Cosmic Christ mosaic at Huntsville's First Baptist Church Thursday morning May 18th. Bob Gathany |,, "Work begins replacing First Baptist Church Cosmic Christ mosaic," 18 May 2017 Sturiale also commissioned local artists to work on everything from stained glass to mosaic tile to custom metal fabricating. James Patrick Kelly, idahostatesman, "The Sturiale Place, a relocated 1893 home, is a new Italian-inspired cafe in Boise," 14 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mosaic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of mosaic


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective (1)

1585, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1770, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective (2)

1632, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mosaic


Middle English musycke, from Medieval Latin musaicum, alteration of Late Latin musivum, from Latin museum, musaeum

Adjective (2)

New Latin Mosaicus, from Moses Moses

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Learn More about mosaic

Dictionary Entries near mosaic






mosaic binding

mosaic dwarf

Statistics for mosaic

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for mosaic

The first known use of mosaic was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for mosaic



English Language Learners Definition of mosaic

: a decoration on a surface made by pressing small pieces of colored glass or stone into a soft material that then hardens to make pictures or patterns

: something made up of different things that together form a pattern


mo·​sa·​ic | \ mō-ˈzā-ik \

Kids Definition of mosaic

: a decoration on a surface made by setting small pieces of glass, stone, or tile of different colors into another material to make patterns or pictures


mo·​sa·​ic | \ mō-ˈzā-ik \

Medical Definition of mosaic 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: an organism or one of its parts composed of cells of more than one genotype : chimera



Medical Definition of mosaic (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : exhibiting mosaicism

Other Words from mosaic

mosaically \ -​ˈzā-​ə-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on mosaic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mosaic

Spanish Central: Translation of mosaic

Nglish: Translation of mosaic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mosaic for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about mosaic

Comments on mosaic

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a person who helps groups work together

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