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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Ceramic \Ce*ram"ic\, a. [Gr. ?, fr. ? earthenware. Cf. Keramic.] Of or pertaining to pottery; relating to the art of making earthenware; as, ceramic products; ceramic ornaments for ceilings.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1850, keramic, from Greek keramikos, from keramos "potter's clay, pottery, tiles," perhaps from a pre-Hellenic word. Watkins suggests possible connection with Latin cremare "to burn," but Klein's sources are firmly against this. Spelling influenced by French céramique (1806). Related: ceramist (1855). Ceramics is attested from 1857.


a. made of material produced by the high temperature firing of inorganic, nonmetallic rocks and minerals. n. 1 (context uncountable English) A hard brittle material that is produced through burning of nonmetallic minerals at high temperatures 2 (context countable English) An object made of this material


adj. of or relating to or made from a ceramic; "a ceramic dish"


n. an artifact made of hard brittle material produced from nonmetallic minerals by firing at high temperatures


A ceramic is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid material comprising metal, nonmetal or metalloid atoms primarily held in ionic and covalent bonds. The crystallinity of ceramic materials ranges from highly oriented to semi-crystalline, and often completely amorphous (e.g., glasses). Varying crystallinity and electron consumption in the ionic and covalent bonds cause most ceramic materials to be good thermal and electrical insulators and extensively researched in ceramic engineering. With such a large range of possible options for the composition/structure of a ceramic (e.g. nearly all of the elements, nearly all types of bonding, and all levels of crystallinity), the breadth of the subject is vast, and identifiable attributes (e.g. hardness, toughness, electrical conductivity, etc.) are hard to specify for the group as a whole. General properties such as high melting temperature, high hardness, poor conductivity, high moduli of elasticity, chemical resistance and low ductility are the norm, with known exceptions to each of these rules (e.g. piezoelectric ceramics, glass transition temperature, superconductive ceramics, etc.). Many composites, such as fiberglass and carbon fiber, while containing ceramic materials, are not considered to be part of the ceramic family.

The word "ceramic comes from the Greek word κεραμικός (keramikos), "of pottery" or "for pottery", from κέραμος (keramos), "potter's clay, tile, pottery". The earliest known mention of the root "ceram-" is the Mycenaean Greek ke-ra-me-we, "workers of ceramics", written in Linear B syllabic script. The word "ceramic" may be used as an adjective to describe a material, product or process, or it may be used as a noun, either singular, or, more commonly, as the plural noun "ceramics".

The earliest ceramics made by humans were pottery objects, including 27,000-year-old figurines, made from clay, either by itself or mixed with other materials like silica, hardened, sintered, in fire. Later ceramics were glazed and fired to create smooth, colored surfaces, decreasing porosity through the use of glassy, amorphous ceramic coatings on top of the crystalline ceramic substrates. Ceramics now include domestic, industrial and building products, as well as a wide range of ceramic art. In the 20th century, new ceramic materials were developed for use in advanced ceramic engineering, such as in semiconductors.

Ceramic (disambiguation)

A ceramic is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid material comprising metal, nonmetal or metalloid atoms primarily held in ionic and covalent bonds. The earliest ceramic objects made by humans were pottery. Ceramics have a wide range of uses, including utilitarian, artistic, and high technology.

Ceramic may also refer to:

Usage examples of "ceramic".

It was a ceramic disc, an ancient coin exactly like the coin the anchorite had given him.

A ceramic coin hung from his long supple neck by a doubled leather thong, and a circlet woven from coypu hair and studded with tiny black seed pearls was loose on his upper arm.

Calamity less than two weeks ago, there had been no crocheted tea cozies in the cell, no ceramic teapot for them to hug, and no tea table for the teapot to rest on.

Kerrie deposited spoons and a black ceramic sugar bowl and creamer on the gray place mat in the center of the table, then sat across from Roman.

The floor -tiles would be coming next week, special ceramic jobs from Italy in ecru and ivory and black.

He picked up the ceramic figurine of a fancily dressed dancing lord and lady from an end table next to Beheim.

Narrow slabs of ceramic floated in the air and gusts of hot, dry air blew from random directions.

If only he could bury his fears as easily as the ancient Sauun had inurned their marvelous, enigmatic, sinuous layer of impermeable ceramic.

The decor was Oriental, stark interiors in which were displayed works of art that Peter knew from his previous visit were of incalculable value antique Japanese brush paintings on silk panels, carvings in jade and ivory, a display of tiny netsuke and in an atrium through which they passed was a miniature forest of Bonsai trees in their shallow ceramic bowls, the frozen contortions of their trunks and branches a sign of their great age.

Muttering insructions to one another, Hutena and Ninon gripped the rim of the stoppered ceramic jug nestled in a bed of sand and camphor within the strongbox.

Hutena and Ninon gripped the rim of the stoppered ceramic jug nestled in a bed of sand and camphor within the strongbox.

He used his strong hands to fracture the seal and brought out the lamp, crafted like one of his origami herons in a delicate ceramic.

A working fireplace, paintings and tapestry, imager prints in ornate frames, a dark green carpet with black tracery through it, plants in bright ceramic pots, ceramic lamps with pseudo fires burning pseudo oil.

Three bodies, already putrefying, lay on the pale green ceramic tiles between the corner table-desk and the circular table.

The wagon is loaded with ceramic crocks of the kind used to hold rapeseed oil, all roped fast to the sideboards.