ceramic (adj.)

1850, keramic, from Greek keramikos, from keramos "potter's earth; tile; earthen vessel, jar, wine-jar, pottery," perhaps from a pre-Hellenic word. Watkins suggests possible connection with Latin cremare "to burn," but Klein's sources are firmly against this. Beekes says "No certain etymology," finds connection with kerasai "to mix" to be "formally unproblematic, but semantically not very convincing," and finds the proposed connection to verbs for "to burn, glow" "better from the semantic side." He concludes, "this technical term for tile-making may well be Pre-Greek (or Anatolian)." Spelling influenced by French céramique (1806). Related: ceramist (1855). Ceramics is attested from 1857.

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