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Glossary of Terms


A ceramic is an inorganic, non-metallic solid prepared by the action of heat and subsequent cooling. Ceramic materials may have a crystalline or partly crystalline structure, or may be amorphous (e.g., a glass). Because most common ceramics are crystalline, the definition of ceramic is often restricted to inorganic crystalline materials, as opposed to the non-crystalline glasses.

The earliest ceramics were pottery objects made from clay, either by itself or mixed with other materials, hardened in fire. Later ceramics were glazed and fired to create a coloured, smooth surface. Ceramics now include domestic, industrial and building products and art objects. In the 20th century, new ceramic materials were developed for use in advanced ceramic engineering; for example, in semiconductors.

The word ceramic comes from a Greek word meaning, "of pottery" or "for pottery". The earliest mention on the word "ceramic" is the Mycenaean Greek ke-ra-me-we, "workers of ceramics". Ceramic may be used as an adjective describing a material, product or process; or as a singular noun, or, more commonly, as a plural noun, ceramics.


A tile is a manufactured piece of hard-wearing material such as ceramic, stone, metal, or even glass. Tiles are generally used for covering roofs, floors, walls, showers, or other objects such as tabletops. Alternatively, tile can sometimes refer to similar units made from lightweight materials such as perlite, wood, and mineral wool, typically used for wall and ceiling applications. Less precisely, the modern term can refer to any sort of construction tile or similar object, such as rectangular counters used in playing games (see tile-based game). The word is derived from the French word tuile, which is, in turn, from the Latin word tegula, meaning a roof tile composed of baked clay.

Tiles are often used to form wall and floor coverings, and can range from simple square tiles to complex mosaics. Tiles are most often made from ceramic, with a hard glaze finish, but other materials are also commonly used, such as glass, marble, granite, slate, and reformed ceramic slurry, which is cast in a mould and fired.


Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of coloured glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral. Small pieces, normally roughly cubic, of stone or glass of different colors, known as tesserae, (diminutive tessellae), are used to create a pattern or picture.


Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granites usually have a medium to coarse grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals (phenocrysts) are larger than the groundmass in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic texture is sometimes known as a porphyry. Granites can be pink to gray in color, depending on their chemistry and mineralogy. By definition, granite has a color index (i.e. the percentage of the rock made up of dark minerals) of less than 25%. Outcrops of granite tend to form tors, and rounded massifs. Granites sometimes occur in circular depressions surrounded by a range of hills, formed by the metamorphic aureole or hornfels.

Granite is nearly always massive (lacking internal structures), hard and tough, and therefore it has gained widespread use as a construction stone. The average density of granite is located between 2.65[1] and 2.75 g/cm3, its compressive strength usually lies above 200 MPa and its viscosity at standard temperature and pressure is 3-6 • 1019 Pa·s.

The word granite comes from the Latin granum, a grain, in reference to the coarse-grained structure of such a crystalline rock.

Granitoid is used as a descriptive field term for general, light coloured, coarse-grained igneous rocks for which a more specific name requires petrographic examination.


Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between 1,200 °C (2,192 °F) and 1,400 °C (2,552 °F). The toughness, strength, and translucence of porcelain arise mainly from the formation of glass and the mineral mullite within the fired body at these high temperatures.

Porcelain derives its present name from old Italian porcellana (cowrie shell) because of its resemblance to the translucent surface of the shell. Porcelain can informally be referred to as "china" in some English-speaking countries, as China was the birth place of porcelain making. Properties associated with porcelain include low permeability and elasticity; considerable strength, hardness, glassiness, brittleness, whiteness, translucence, and resonance; and a high resistance to chemical attack and thermal shock.

For the purposes of trade, the Combined Nomenclature of the European Communities defines porcelain as being "completely vitrified, hard, impermeable (even before glazing), white or artificially coloured, translucent (except when of considerable thickness) and resonant." However, the term porcelain lacks a universal definition and has "been applied in a very unsystematic fashion to substances of diverse kinds which have only certain surface-qualities in common" (Burton 1906).

Porcelain is used to make table, kitchen, sanitary, and decorative wares; objects of fine art; and tiles. Its high resistance to the passage of electricity makes porcelain an excellent insulator. Dental porcelain is used to make false teeth, caps, crowns and veneers.


Marble is a rock resulting from metamorphism of sedimentary carbonate rocks, (most commonly limestone or dolomite rock). Metamorphism causes variable recrystallization of the original carbonate mineral grains. The resulting marble rock is typically composed of an interlocking mosaic of carbonate crystals. Primary sedimentary textures and structures of the original carbonate rock (protolith) have typically been modified or destroyed.

Pure white marble is the result of metamorphism of a very pure (silicate-poor) limestone or dolomite protolith. The characteristic swirls and veins of many coloured marble varieties are usually due to various mineral impurities such as clay, silt, sand, iron oxides, or chert which were originally present as grains or layers in the limestone. Green coloration is often due to serpentine resulting from originally high magnesium limestone or dolostone with silica impurities. These various impurities have been mobilized and recrystallized by the intense pressure and heat of the metamorphism.


Glass transition or vitrification refers to the transformation of a glass-forming liquid into a glass, which usually occurs upon rapid cooling.