Definition of terra cotta in US English:

terra cotta

(also terracotta)

noun

  • 1Unglazed, typically brownish-red earthenware, used chiefly as an ornamental building material and in modeling.

    • ‘A reception porch with terracotta quarry tiles leads to an open plan sitting cum dining room with vaulted ceiling.’
    • ‘The artists use materials such as fibreglass, terracotta, oil, acrylic and other mixed media.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The rich clay soil provides an ideal medium for the red terracotta earthenware pots and water containers that were the mainstay of this economy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘From the outside, the turreted building, with its terracotta roof tiles, looks like any extravagantly large house on an upmarket estate.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘To the rear of the house is the kitchen/breakfast room, with polished terracotta floor tiles and French doors leading out to a patio.’
    • ‘Most at risk from frost are terracotta pots, garden ornaments and chimineas, particularly those made or bought in sunnier climes.’
    • ‘Clay or terracotta tiles are among the most eye-catching and characteristic roofing materials used in medieval buildings.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Just off the living room is a good sized kitchen, also with stone walls and terracotta tile floor.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Both unglazed terracotta ware and highly glazed ware crafted there are on sale in the museum foyer and the adjacent conservatory.’
    1. 1.1 A statuette or other object made of terra cotta.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This is the largest and most highly finished of Bemini's surviving terracottas.’
      • ‘The two following rooms mixed Kirili's pieces cast from clay originals and his fired terracottas.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If I were to inherit a Nok terracotta, though, I'd probably keep it.’
      • ‘The visit begins with the civilization of ancient India, with Maurya and Sunga terracottas, Mathura and Amaravati sculpture and medieval bronzes.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Indeed members of this Obatala-linked population are thought to have been the principal artists of Ife's early 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.’
      • ‘In that case, may I ask if you have written about such terracottas or published pictures of them?’
    2. 1.2 A strong brownish-red or brownish-orange color.
      • ‘There are plenty of rich silks and organzas both in bright colours and earthy tones of terracotta, deep burgundy, pewter and slate black.’
      • ‘The L-shaped entrance hallway is decorated in terracotta tones and fitted with ceiling coving and a centre rose.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Eight colours can be made out from the tapestry; the five main colours are blue-green, terracotta, light-green, buff and grey-blue.’
      • ‘Warm reds and terracotta, sunshine yellows and striking blues give the property an air of confidence, style and warmth, often lacking in period houses.’
      • ‘Starting off in the main Piazza, you'll easily spot the famous Duomo, with its magnificent terracotta coloured cupola.’
      • ‘To the front of the house, the living room is decorated in a warm shade of 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.’
      • ‘In Dunlop's case, that meant altering her colour scheme to a palate of earthy tones and terracotta.’
      • ‘The peeling paint has been replaced by shades of green and terracotta.’
      • ‘They are very strong but not gaudy, colours like terracotta, green and yellow.’
      • ‘First, the house's painted Chinoiserie wallpaper suggested a palette for the scagliola: soft shades of terracotta, green, buff, lilac and dusty blue.’
      • ‘Back downstairs, the family room is a cosy space with an antique cast iron fireplace and walls painted in warm terracotta.’
      • ‘Also at ground level, the living room is decorated in warm terracotta tones and features a beamed ceiling and open brick fireplace.’
      • ‘It is best to apply this technique over natural colours such as cream, beige, camel and terracotta to achieve a quality authentic finish.’
      • ‘The two rooms were softly lit and decorated in cream, beige and terracotta, with dried flowers, dark wood, bare beams and open brickwork.’
      • ‘The entrance hall with beech timber floor and recessed lighting is decorated in warm terracotta; adjoining it is a partially tiled shower room.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The roomy public areas sport a combination of cool tones, and colour and texture contrasts in reds and terracotta.’
      • ‘Ferragamo is giving its customers natural materials with a rustic texture, in colors such as ecru, cool beige, slate and terracotta.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

terra cotta

/ˌtɛrə ˈkɑdə//ˌterə ˈkädə/