tes·​sera ˈte-sə-rə How to pronounce tessera (audio)
plural tesserae ˈte-sə-ˌrē How to pronounce tessera (audio)
: a small tablet (as of wood, bone, or ivory) used by the ancient Romans as a ticket, tally, voucher, or means of identification
: a small piece (as of marble, glass, or tile) used in mosaic work

Examples of tessera in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web On the other hand, VERITAS would provide a map of every tessera, albeit with less overall detail. Robin George Andrews, Scientific American, 2 June 2021 Some tessera were damaged and others were missing when it was rolled up and transported overseas, but those too were restored. Joseph Serna, latimes.com, 27 May 2018 In the milling street Crivano feels invisible again, a tessera blended into a mosaic. Scarlett Thomas, New York Times, 27 May 2016

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tessera.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, probably ultimately from Greek tessares four; from its having four corners — more at four

First Known Use

1538, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of tessera was in 1538

Dictionary Entries Near tessera

Cite this Entry

“Tessera.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tessera. Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

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