Definition of terracotta in English:



  • 1[mass noun] A type of fired clay, typically of a brownish-red colour and unglazed, used as an ornamental building material and in modelling.

    [as modifier] ‘terracotta pots’
    • ‘Clay or terracotta tiles are among the most eye-catching and characteristic roofing materials used in medieval buildings.’
    • ‘He is, among much else, the historian of the bourgeois kitchen under Louis XV, and recorder of its homely affinity of terracotta jars and pottery serving dishes, glossy only because of hard scrubbing.’
    • ‘The artists use materials such as fibreglass, terracotta, oil, acrylic and other mixed media.’
    • ‘Both unglazed terracotta ware and highly glazed ware crafted there are on sale in the museum foyer and the adjacent conservatory.’
    • ‘The rich clay soil provides an ideal medium for the red terracotta earthenware pots and water containers that were the mainstay of this economy.’
    • ‘Just off the living room is a good sized kitchen, also with stone walls and terracotta tile floor.’
    • ‘There are 17 villas on a nine-acre site at Brunstane, each with five bedrooms, featuring natural materials such as terracotta, wood, marble, granite and leather.’
    • ‘We find in India a gamut of beautiful lamps made of all sorts of material - clay, terracotta, porcelain, brass, bronze, silver and at times even dough.’
    • ‘These holdings are complemented by a select number of important baroque ceramics, most of which are large-scale pieces made of terracotta, earthenware, or porcelain.’
    • ‘An unusual feature of Somapuri is not just the fine sculptures and terracotta plaques that used to decorate the buildings, but the architectural style of the main temple which stood in the middle of the compound.’
    • ‘The section is completed with fine sculptures in both terracotta and bronze of seated women by Jules Dalou, a political exile to London from the Paris Commune.’
    • ‘Most at risk from frost are terracotta pots, garden ornaments and chimineas, particularly those made or bought in sunnier climes.’
    • ‘This passage specifies the functions of these mummiform statuettes, made of wood, terracotta, faience or metal, and in some cases left in the tomb in their hundreds.’
    • ‘To the rear of the house is the kitchen/breakfast room, with polished terracotta floor tiles and French doors leading out to a patio.’
    • ‘Executed in a mixture of black and white marble, red, orange and brown terracotta and blue and green glass, the mosaics retain their voluptuous, dazzling intensity.’
    • ‘Make an herb wreath for the kitchen by wiring on fresh herbs to a grapevine wreath and adding chilies, bouquet garni, tiny terracotta pots and a big gingham bow.’
    • ‘If you plan to hang your container, it's wise to choose one that is fairly light weight, rather than one that is heavy clay or terracotta.’
    • ‘More than 70 marble, bronze, terracotta and plaster busts and life-size sculptures are on display together for the first time in nearly two centuries.’
    • ‘A reception porch with terracotta quarry tiles leads to an open plan sitting cum dining room with vaulted ceiling.’
    • ‘From the outside, the turreted building, with its terracotta roof tiles, looks like any extravagantly large house on an upmarket estate.’
    1. 1.1[count noun]A statuette or other object made of terracotta.
      • ‘The two following rooms mixed Kirili's pieces cast from clay originals and his fired terracottas.’
      • ‘This is the largest and most highly finished of Bemini's surviving terracottas.’
      • ‘And there are some, they continued, that are incredibly important, such as the series of Kwahu funerary terracottas or the 1971 sequence showing the Timi of Ede in Nigeria.’
      • ‘Upon entering the dark galleries, one is welcomed by some remarkable exemplars of Nok terracottas and Ife heads on loan from the Nigerian National Museum, Lagos, and the Ife Museum.’
      • ‘The Archaic period (c. early 6th century - 480 BC) saw a great flowering of Etruscan art with the production of fine tomb paintings, funerary sculptures, and architectural terracottas.’
      • ‘The collection also boasts a few terracottas on more or less the same scale as the bronzes.’
      • ‘In that case, may I ask if you have written about such terracottas or published pictures of them?’
      • ‘Although in New York an octagonal dark blue room displays a few Italian bronzes, the Electors were not concerned to amass small bronzes, alabasters or terracottas.’
      • ‘The visit begins with the civilization of ancient India, with Maurya and Sunga terracottas, Mathura and Amaravati sculpture and medieval bronzes.’
      • ‘Indeed members of this Obatala-linked population are thought to have been the principal artists of Ife's early terracottas.’
      • ‘The votive terracottas of the later sanctuary were similar to the dedications at the earlier site, and both continued to be used through the Classical period.’
      • ‘If I were to inherit a Nok terracotta, though, I'd probably keep it.’
    2. 1.2A strong brownish-red or brownish-orange colour.
      ‘shades of green and terracotta’
      [as modifier] ‘warm, mellow terracotta tones’
      • ‘Eight colours can be made out from the tapestry; the five main colours are blue-green, terracotta, light-green, buff and grey-blue.’
      • ‘The peeling paint has been replaced by shades of green and terracotta.’
      • ‘The L-shaped entrance hallway is decorated in terracotta tones and fitted with ceiling coving and a centre rose.’
      • ‘Colours are tonally muted - shades are subtle orange, peach, salmon, terracotta and teal which strongly contrast with a true red, black, white and deep blue.’
      • ‘In Dunlop's case, that meant altering her colour scheme to a palate of earthy tones and terracotta.’
      • ‘The entrance hall with beech timber floor and recessed lighting is decorated in warm terracotta; adjoining it is a partially tiled shower room.’
      • ‘The complete range of fabrics is included in the company's new brochure, which is arranged into six colour collections - red, yellow, blue, green, terracotta and natural.’
      • ‘Ferragamo is giving its customers natural materials with a rustic texture, in colors such as ecru, cool beige, slate and terracotta.’
      • ‘All the accommodation is decorated in as minimalist fashion as luxury will allow, reflecting the vibrant colours of the region, from warm terracotta to the cool turquoise of the sea.’
      • ‘Back downstairs, the family room is a cosy space with an antique cast iron fireplace and walls painted in warm terracotta.’
      • ‘Warm reds and terracotta, sunshine yellows and striking blues give the property an air of confidence, style and warmth, often lacking in period houses.’
      • ‘To the front of the house, the living room is decorated in a warm shade of terracotta.’
      • ‘The roomy public areas sport a combination of cool tones, and colour and texture contrasts in reds and terracotta.’
      • ‘First, the house's painted Chinoiserie wallpaper suggested a palette for the scagliola: soft shades of terracotta, green, buff, lilac and dusty blue.’
      • ‘The two rooms were softly lit and decorated in cream, beige and terracotta, with dried flowers, dark wood, bare beams and open brickwork.’
      • ‘It is best to apply this technique over natural colours such as cream, beige, camel and terracotta to achieve a quality authentic finish.’
      • ‘There are plenty of rich silks and organzas both in bright colours and earthy tones of terracotta, deep burgundy, pewter and slate black.’
      • ‘Starting off in the main Piazza, you'll easily spot the famous Duomo, with its magnificent terracotta coloured cupola.’
      • ‘They are very strong but not gaudy, colours like terracotta, green and yellow.’
      • ‘Also at ground level, the living room is decorated in warm terracotta tones and features a beamed ceiling and open brick fireplace.’


Early 18th century: from Italian terra cotta baked earth, from Latin terra cocta.